The BBC Trust has agreed to meet with open source advocates to discuss the BBC's proprietary, Microsoft-only iPlayer, a DRM-based video player that restricts how British people use the TV they're required by law to pay for. The iPlayer lets Microsoft Windows users in Britain download the BBC's programming for seven days. It enforces the viewing limitation by installing spyware-like code on your system that allows it to lock you out of the video files that the BBC has put on your hard-drive.
This approach is incompatible with free/open source software like the GNU/Linux operating system. This software is intended to be modified by anyone who wants to improve it, and is made as easy-to-tweak as possible. DRM hopes to prevent this kind of thing, because if you can modify DRM, you can change it to turn off the anti-copying stuff. So the BBC is locking Brits into using nothing but propriety software for their video needs -- and they're spending years and millions of pounds to do it, which means that the BBC will be just as locked in as its viewers.
The Trust is supposed to stop the BBC from doing this kind of thing, and it's finally starting to take its job seriously. It's about time.
The development came less than 48 hours after a meeting between the Open Source Consortium and regulators at Ofcom on Tuesday. Officials agreed to press the Trust, the BBC's governing body, to meet the OSC. The consortium received an invitation on Wednesday afternoon.
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