BBC recruits Microsoft DRM exec

The BBC has hired a former Microsoft executive who was responsible for the Windows Media technology, to its "iPlayer" division. That's the division which it will be making crippled versions of some of the BBC's programming available online.

Windows Media Player is a kind of lockware that takes over your computer and prevents you from seeing and using some of the files on your hard drive. It's against the law to make a Windows Media Player device or program without Microsoft's permission, and Microsoft won't let you use its technology in open source players.

The BBC has announced that it will make its programming available through a short-term window using Windows Media technology, which means that British people will have to license American software to watch British TV. British open source programmers can't make their own players for BBC programming and share them with their neighbours.

This will have no impact on the unauthorized copying of British TV. The BBC broadcasts all of its shows "in the clear," so that any video-tuner can record them and share them, copy them, and so on. All this means is that Internet TV won't be as good as broadcast TV -- and that Brits who watch it anyway will get locked into Microsoft's proprietary software (and Brits who download from P2P services will go on being exposed to legal liability for watching telly).

A public call for comments found that more than 80 percent of respondents objected to the use of DRM and particularly Microsoft's DRM in BBC programming. The BBC's Trustees ignored this and gave the BBC permission to sell out the license-payers to Microsoft.

The hiring of a Microsoft exec whose remit has been to promote Microsoft's proprietary anti-user technology to work on the BBC's Internet player strategy is just another nail in the BBC's coffin. The 21st century doesn't need a "public service broadcaster" whose idea of public service is forcing you to buy your technology from a monopolist and preventing you from exercising your legal rights under copyright.

The appointment of a Microsoft executive to a key position at the BBC is significant. The newly created post of controller of the Future Media and Technology Group positions him as a potential successor to Ashley Highfield, who has done so much to promote new media within the corporation over the last six years. He has placed the iPlayer project at the centre of its online strategy. It is also likely to play a significant role in the commercial plans of BBC Worldwide.

See also:
BBC Trustees agree to let BBC infect Britain with DRM
BBC techies talk DRM
BBC tries DRM-free distribution
BBC Creative Archive launches, without DRM