My new Guardian column, "The BBC is encrypting its HD signal by the back door," describes a petition from the BBC to Ofcom, the UK telecoms regulator, seeking permission to encrypt its broadcast signals, something it is prohibited from doing. The BBC proposal goes like this: Hollywood studios are blackmailing us and demanding this. But the encryption won't be bad, since it'll only affect a few programmes and only in small ways.
It's simply not true. The BBC is being deliberately misleading and extremely naive here. Naive because it's just not credible that the Hollywood studios and other rightsholders will boycott broadcast TV without encryption. They made exactly the same threat in the US, saying that without the Broadcast Flag, they'd stop licensing sport and movies to broadcast TV. There's no Broadcast Flag in the US. The broadcasts of sports and new release movies go on.
Misleading because the BBC's proposal turns over control of the design of TV receivers and recorders in the UK to an offshore consortium called DTLA, effectively turning it, not Ofcom, into the British regulator. DTLA and its guidelines will determine what you can do with your TV signals, not Parliament and copyright law. DTLA prohibits the use of open source drivers, which means that this will render obsolete all cards and other devices with that can be used with free/open software. It also prohibits unencrypted digital outputs, which means that you won't be able to buy a converter box that sends a HD digital signal to your SD Freeview box, so you'll have to throw out the old box.
Be sure to check out the comments where I'm debunking the BBC's talking points directly.
Some background: licence-fee-paid television must be free to receive in the UK. Unlike cable and commercial satellite signals, free-to-air television is carried on public airwaves, which broadcasters are allowed to use for free. In return, broadcasters are expected to provide programming on those airwaves, for free. And not just free as in "free beer", but also free as in "free speech." The terms and conditions for free-to-air telly are "Do anything you want with this, provided it doesn't violate copyright law."
The BBC is encrypting its HD signal by the back door
But big rightsholder groups - US movie studios, mostly - object to this. They'd prefer a "copyright-plus" regime, in which they get to invent a bunch of new copyrights for themselves, without the inconvenience of public debate or parliamentary lawmaking. The way they do this is by slapping restrictive licence agreements on their media, or rather licence "agreements," in inverted commas. You don't get to negotiate these "agreements," they're imposed on you, and are sometimes even invisible to you.
I dote on fidget gadgets — soothing gizmos intended to give your hands something to keep busy with, like modern worry-beads — and while you can’t buy Chris Bathgate’s amazing machined sliders, and the Fidget Cube Kickstarter just closed, there’s still Thinkgeek’s new Jumbo Noah Fidget Toy, which looks like a lot of fun and […]
VPhone is a wee “phone”, surely the most wee of them all. It has a 1.54-inch touchscreen display, Bluetooth, FM radio, pedometer, 128MB (megabytes!) of storage, a heart rate monitor, some social network-monitoring apps, and a choice of “simple and stylish” black or silver trim. The radio’s quad-band GSM, so if you can get your […]
Withdrawn by Samsung and recalled from store shelves, the explosion-prone Galaxy Note 7 is now forbidden in the skies. The Federal Aviation Administration has officially banned it, via an emergency prohibition order, making it a federal crime to take one on board an airplane. The order restricts passengers from carrying the phone “on their person, […]
This Python Mega Course will help you learn to code by teaching you to build 10 real-world apps that each highlight a unique use of Python.Job prospects for coders are still growing steadily—and with Python being one of the most popular coding languages out there today, it’s important for job seekers to demonstrate a widespread understanding of the […]
The Atmos R2 may be bigger than the brand’s previously-released vapes, but we argue that in this case it’s definitely a good thing. A bigger heating chamber means more room for packing it full. And the bigger battery means longer, more fulfilling vape sessions. In fact, you can use the Atmos R2 for up to about 25 […]
These days, there is huge demand for ethical hackers. Companies pay these professionals to identify and remedy security holes in their networks before malicious hackers find and exploit them. What’s great about this is that if you love hacking or think you may love hacking, you can do it for a living and not as […]