Censorship, DRM, and the news

Fat Headed White Moron made the comment over at MikeB’s about someone’s not being able to see a video since they were out of the video’s region.

He said something about Censorship.

Sorry, it’s not Censorship, it’s DRM: Digital Rights management.

It’s also not about the government, but business practises.

If one wants to watch the TV show Timewatch in the UK on iPlayer, the BBC’s Internet TV and Radio service, you will see the following screen:

On the other hand, if you are outside the UK, you will see the following screen:

The BBC isn’t censoring Timewatch, but telling you that you need to watch it on a source which is within your local media market. There are two reasons for this. One, BBC TV productions are paid for by the UK television licence fee. The second is rights agreements with third parties. For example, BBC programmes in the US are co-produced with Public Broadcasting and the Discovery Channel (BBC America is run by BBC World Wide, but is Distributed by Discovery Networks and Timewatch was coproduced with the Discovery Channel). On the other hand, most radio programmes can be accessed universally, with the exception of a few programmes, mainly some sports broadcasts, that are affected by rights issues.

I gave the example of Desperate Housewives, which is broadcast in the UK by Channel 4. The British Government is not censoring Desperate Housewives in the US, it has to do with rights agreements.

You see this if you are in the US:
Desperate NonUK

And this in the UK:

Now, you can watch Desperate Housewives in the US, which means that Desperate Housewives isn’t being “censored”. The viewer is being shunted to the “appropriate” media market.

See also DVD region coding. This is an aspect of DRM designed to allow motion picture studios and other rights holders control aspects of a release, including content, release date, and price, according to the region. DVD video discs may be encoded with a region code restricting the area of the world in which they can be played.

On the other hand, it seems that the BBC is now adding additional lines to the news to make it harder to download! Now, the BBC is using 640×372 lines instead of 640×360. This causes playback issues for at least AppleTV, XBMC on XBOX, and even the official iPlayer. The problem appears to be there for all modes flashstd and better. The new flashlow mode strangely does not have these extra lines and therefore plays back OK. Although, I have been having problems with downloading the news even on official iPlayer.

Personally, I am against DRM.

So, there you go!

Posted 03/06/2010 by lacithedog in BBC, BBC iplayer, Censorship, DRM, iplayer

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