The DefectiveByDesign folks picketed outside of the BBC last week to protest the Beeb's adoption of Microsoft DRM for their Internet TV service, iPlayer. The BBC has chosen to webcast its programming under a set of restrictions that are far more binding than those in place for its broadcasts -- and it has chosen to launch the service in a Microsoft format than more than 25 percent of Brits can't view. Using Microsoft for iPlayer means that it's impossible (and illegal) for Brits to make an open source player, or even a proprietary player without permission from Microsoft.
Free Software Foundation executive director Peter Brown sez, "This is the problem we have. The executives in charge at the BBC don't champion open access. In 2003 the BBC came under the same sort of pressure to encrypt their digital satellite broadcast - they stood up to Murdoch and Sky and Hollywood and all rights holders, and won. These
BBC/Microsoft guys want DRM because it gives lock-in to Windows - simple really.
If the BBC doesn't stand for the public good - and DRM is not in the public good - then what is the BBC for?"
This is a great location for our protest. We start outside BBC TV Centre and then move to BBC Worldwide a 1/4 of a mile away. This is where the iPlayer development team are based. We have a large audience of BBC staff come to the windows to wave and watch us. A few start to open windows and then a few more. We get supportive shouts and smiles. One staff member starts to put apples on the the outside of the window frame - a message about Mac development maybe? Anyway, an executive comes out of the building and shouts up to all the staff to get back inside and close their windows. We jeer in appreciation.