BBC DRM HTML5 WTF

Have you read Computer World’s recent article entitled, “BBC Attacks the Open Web, GNU/Linux in Danger“?

If so, then you will already know that the Beeb (as well as Google, Netflix and Microsoft though no-one seems to be focusing on them) are asking The World Wide Web Consortium (“W3C“) to add Digital Rights Management (DRM) into HTML5. And you may be shocked by that.

BBC-DRM-HTML-WTF

Shocked because DRM has got such a bad rap, and rightfully so in many cases in my opinion (limiting installs on a PC game you’ve paid for is one example that really gets my back up).

But the thing is, this story about DRM and HTML5 isn’t quite as sensational as some sites seem to be making it out to be. I’ve seen comments suggesting that DRM in HTML5 is an attack on free and open source software, even to the point where Computer World said,

“This is about instructing an operating system not to pass on streams from DRM’d videos. In other words, the BBC here wants the power to order your computer to ignore your commands. That’s possible on closed-source operating systems that have this feature of disobedience baked in. But for those that are predicated on freedom – GNU/Linux, for example – this simply won’t be an option. Given the BBC’s concern about things that “would completely defeat the point of any content protection”, the fear has to be that it would therefore refuse to support systems running free software, even though their UK users pay TV licence fees like everyone else.”

Ouch.

So… no more Linux from this day onwards huh?

Of course there is another view and that is that the BBC simply want to upgrade iPlayer to HTML5 and want to secure the content they broadcast on it. Seems fair enough doesn’t it?

As Martin Belam says,

“Today the iPlayer allows users to stream nearly all BBC television and radio in the UK. The other major UK broadcasters have catch-up TV services. I’ve no doubt that none of this would have been possible if the first iterations of the iPlayer, and the first negotiations about changing the rights frameworks for broadcast in the UK hadn’t had DRM as part of the agenda.”

After all, the BBC own/create the content so why shouldn’t they have some control over it? Why should people outside of the UK have the opportunity to freely watch what we have to pay an extortionate licence fee to view?

What do you think of this development? Should HTML5 have a form of encryption embedded into it to protect certain rights of companies or is it simple an infringement upon the ‘free’ nature of the world wide web?

photo: ell brown

About Lee Munson

Lee's non-technical background allows him to write about internet security in a clear way that is understandable to both IT professionals and people just like you who need simple answers to your security questions.

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