Last week, I brought you the news that the BBC had inadvertently dropped the DRM from its controversial iPlayer service, a video-on-demand system. The BBC's beta iPhone project made unencrypted streams of BBC programmes available to anyone whose browser identified itself as an iPhone.
Yesterday, the service stopped working, as the BBC took a countermeasure to stop non-iPhones from getting access to the unencumbered streams.
Today, it's back. It turns out that all it takes to get around the BBC's countermeasure is to structure the request header using the same quirks as an iPhone.
At this point, the BBC needs to confront the fact that by choosing DRM, it has set itself to war against the license paying public. After all, a British license-payer who records a digital video-stream from the Beeb's broadcast towers can store the recording forever, can watch it on any computer or TV, and can otherwise enjoy all the freedoms that we've had since the VCR was legalized.
But with the iPlayer, you can only watch shows on authorized devices (all these devices require a license from a non-British corporation to manufacture) and only according to a baroque set of rules that delete your recordings after a set period.
The law compels British TV owners to pay for the production of these programmes -- so it's natural that they'll want to go on enjoying the freedoms they've had in the pre-Internet era.
The BBC has declared war on the people who fund it. That's not a war it can win.
On Wednesday, the Legislative Committee of the European Union narrowly voted to keep the two most controversial internet censorship and surveillance proposals in European history in the upcoming revision to the Copyright Directive -- as soon as July Fourth, the whole European Parliament could vote to make this the law of 28 EU member-states.
Wednesday's vote to press ahead with mandatory copyright filters for the European internet is catastrophic for the web: starting a new business just got $60-100 million more expensive, because building filters for every kind of copyrighted work ain't cheap.
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