Archive for the ‘DRM’ Category

Yes, there are English subtitles for un village français.

un village francais screen cap

Screen cap from S2E1: La loterie

I found it amusing that the first DVD I popped into my player had an anti-piracy warning since getting subtitles for this series is an “after market” affair. There are subtitles available on the internet. Not the best, but subtitles nonetheless.

And they are free.

Unfortunately, the DVDs don’t make it easy to use the subtitles since there is copy protection which makes it hard to use something like VLC media player to watch them (and load the subtitle track). Although, one can download the subtitle file from the internet, which makes me wonder why the people who sell the disks didn’t put them on in the first place. After all, there was an article in the New York Times that praised this series.

That means that you have to make the episodes viewable in a source that can load a separate subtitle track since the DVD is unplayable as is through VLC.  As I said, VLC media player allows you to load a subtitle by going to menu>video>subtitle track  or subtitle>add subtitle track and then selecting the appropriate subtitle file.

Don’t complain about piracy as a reason for losing sales if you are not catering to the marketplace. Especially if the customer has to go elsewhere for the subtitles!  Even worse if the best way to watch your series is using a copy that was ripped, or even downloaded (I bought mine and do not advocate using downloaded copies if “official” versions are available).

I found the subtitles I use here:  These subtitles are by R. Clarke of Whitby, Ontario, Canada.

As I said, these are OK.  They were free and you get what you pay for.   They were not that helpful during the picnic scene since they either weren’t present or were up for too short a time.  I could probably make do without subtitles, but I find having English subtitles are far more helpful than the French ones were.   The French ones were more annoying than helpful.

But given that I paid 58.49 for the set (US$83.33, £47.60), I’m not unhappy with the end result.  I am unhappy that  have to take up hard disk space to be able to watch something I have on DVD.

Addition: as I’ve been ripping my disks for VLC, I’ve noticed that some of the subtitles aren’t very complete, but it seems that the addic7ed site has the only “complete” set of subtitles for this series.  I can’t vouch for how good they all are as I have only seen one complete episode, but these are (1) available and (2) somewhat complete.  Perhaps, the subtitle files may be updated at addic7ed to fix the incomplete/inaccurate ones.  At this point, the addic7ed site is the best source I’ve found.

Another note: I was QCing S5E3 and noticed that the subtitles were off timing.  There was Another scene which was not on the official DVD that was subtitled before the action began.  I’m not sure how to edit these, but that might be what needs to be done.

Further observation:  Actually, the subtitles work very well if you watch this using VLC media player in Linux.  I’ve been watching the episodes where I had problems and there are no problems when one uses Linux.

Also, the subtitles end at Series 5 episode 7 at this time (29 May 14).  Maybe some of the corrections will be made by someone.  I’d like to figure out how to edit the subtitles.  I just downloaded Jubler and may work on fixing these.  I will post them at addicted if I do (a) fix or (b) create subtitles.

As of now (18 Aug 14), the complete series subtitles are available.  I haven’t QC’d them, but they are available in English for the full series.  Thank you, R. Clarke of Whitby, Ontario, Canada.


SWF verification change at the Beeb?

Disclaimer: yes, I could use the official BBC iPlayer programme, but it isn’t as fun.  not to mention that the BBC shouldn’t be blocking open source software per its charter. Not to mention SWF verification doesn’t really work.

It seems that the Beeb has once again changed the SWF verification URL meaning that get_iplayer is acting up and I am receiving this error message:

WARNING: Your version of rtmpdump/flvstreamer does not support SWF Verification
WARNING: rtmpdump/flvstreamer 1.8 or later is required – please upgrade

This is nonsensical for several reasons: the major one being that there was no problem earlier in the day.  I am also using the latest update for all the components of get-iplayer.  On the other hand, the last time this happened, the Beeb had changed the SWF verification URL and there was the simple fix of:

get_iplayer –prefs-add –rtmp-tv-opts=”–swfVfy=”

Yes, the issue is a changes SWF verification URL since I tried it in my browser and received a 404 error and then a “this content doesn’t seem to be working” error:

swfurl 404

Of course, the simple fix was provided by the good people who have been maintaining get_iplayer lately.  I did a search to try and locate a newer patch, but there are a few problems here which are:

1) I received an e-mail saying that get_iplayer forum digests were no longer being sent out.
2) I searched the get_iplayer forum and didn’t see a recent post on this (Latest was December 2013).
3) I couldn’t post to the get_iplayer Forum even though I was on the get_iplayer mailing list

I was hoping to receive the new swfvfy url patch from a get_iplayer list mailing, but that hasn’t happened.  I tried to login to the forum, but received a message asking me to supplicate the forum mods to join (even though I’ve been on the list for yonks).

In short,  I’ve done everything dinkypumpkin says to do in the “When SWF Verification Attacks” post and am reckoning the issue is a change in the SWF URL.  OTH, I haven’t seen anything in the get_iplayer forum to tell me there has been:

1) a change in the URL
2) a new patch issued
3) if I am the only person with this problem.

I’m not sitting around on my thumbs here and have been trying to find some way to learn the new SWF verification URL, but I think that may be covered by the Official Secrets Act (after all, BBC employees are government workers).  I should also add that I tried playing with the RTMPdump commands that are listed here: in particular:

−−swfVfy −W url
URL of the SWF player for this media. This option replaces all three of the −−swfUrl, −−swfhash, and −−swfsize options. When this option is used, the SWF player is retrieved from the specified URL and the hash and size are computed automatically. Also the information is cached in a .swfinfo file in the user’s home directory, so that it doesn’t need to be retrieved and recalculated every time rtmpdump is run. The .swfinfo file records the URL, the time it was fetched, the modification timestamp of the SWF file, its size, and its hash. By default, the cached info will be used for 30 days before re-checking.

Only to get more error messages about RTMPdump and that I am not using the correct URL.

I know that this will all pass, as it has in the past, but the problem is that this is yet another annoyance which will be overcome.  As I said in my disclaimer, SWF verification doesn’t work.

And it sure as hell doesn’t stop the pirates.

(Give up and allow for a PBS style donation licence fee system for those outside the UK, but that raises other issues with DRM).

Conspiracy to defraud?

I think that copyright matters, and is important. Creators ought to be legally able to give their work away freely, as so many do for the betterment of humankind, and to set certain conditions on how their work is used. And I think creators ought to be able to release their work under traditional copyright and have legal recourse against those who are illegally profiting from it.

There have been a couple of cases here relating to sites which offered links to TV and video content: Anton Vickerman and Sheffield student Richard O’Dwyer.  I have to admit that I find these prosecutions to be disturbing.  Although, I do find solace in this comment:

“This was not a case brought using copyright law. The interest groups involved couldn’t present a case of copyright infringement and instead decided to press for the use of the common law offence of ‘conspiracy to defraud’,” said UK Pirate party leader Loz Kaye. “This is one of the most controversial crimes in English law – it criminalises conduct by two or more people that would not be criminal when performed by an individual.

The offence was notoriously used in the 1970s to prevent people sharing film cassettes as the TV and film industry believed video was a threat to their existence.”

Since I do talk a lot about downloading material, but usually for my own personal use. I also talk about feeling somewhat guilty that I can’t pay more than my fair share for the material I download–although I am more than covered under the UK TV licensing scheme.  I can add in that these people were doing this for profit, and I’m just linking back to official sites where the material can be found.

I will also add that I do not like downloading via Torrent, but would prefer if archived material were better available.  Although, if someone is inclined to go that route, it is far more available than I would like.

Graham Linehan, writer of the sitcoms The IT Crowd, Black Books and Father Ted,  said the prosecution itself – not just the potential extradition – was a cause for alarm.

“It just seems to me that people like Richard are being punished for being able to navigate the modern world,” said Linehan. “The internet has changed everything, they’re doing what comes naturally in these new, uncharted waters and suddenly they’re getting their collars felt by people who still have Hotmail addresses.

And then [there’s] the sheer shocking arbitrary nature of it all … to be told that you could face up to 10 years for sharing links? When I heard that Nora Ephron died, I shared on Twitter a link to the full version of When Harry Met Sally on YouTube. Am I a criminal now? Why? Why not?”

The strange this is that US authorities become concerned about a site linking to content often still within copyright. To sell a counterfeit CD or DVD of a copyrighted work is an offence, as is deliberately uploading such a work to the internet. On the other hand, they are now hitting people who link to copyrighted material. The whole thing makes absolutely no sense on its face.

Additionally, the prosecutions are happening for events happening outside of the US with no direct connection to US territory.

I can add in that Wikipedia’s founder, Jimmy Wales, launched a petition against the O’Dwyer extradition attempt. Naturally, I signed it. This is too frightening to not sign.

Read more:

Way to go, Aussies!

Australian ISP iiNet  won a legal victory against the Hollywood studios who wanted to hold the ISP liable for its client’s downloads.  Australia’s highest federal court today found in a unanimous decision that Perth-based iiNet could not be held responsible for the trade of thousands of pirate movies and music files by its customers.

I have to ad that iiNet has a similar attitude toward the illegal download issue as I do–make this materially available at a reasonable price. Stop looking the other way and start providing this to people who don’t have access to this material in their countries,

Nordic Noir

My wife was asking me about when the latest series of the Killing (aka Forbrydelsen, meaning The Crime) was going to appear on BBC Four.  Alas, that is yet to come, but the Radio Times has announced that more Nordic Noir will be hitting the airwaves soon.  The only one of these new series with a definite start date is the Bridge, which is coming to BBC4 on 21 April at 21:00.

On the other hand, the Radio Times mentions a few other series which have made it to the airwaves on both sides of the pond, Lilyhammer, which was put out by Netflix in the US and NRK in Norway, will show up sometime in the future on BBC4.  The plot line is somewhat hackneyed–Criminal gets put in witness protection, but in this case, he finds himself in a totally different culture.  Steven Van Zandt is basically rediong his role as Silvio Dante from the Sopranos.  The series is OK, but a bit of a stretch.  Jonseing Sopranos fans tend to like it though.

The Danish version of the Killing has not officially made it to the US, which is why I mention DRM here.  Also, its relevant since Lillyhammer was “broadcast” by Netflix over its internet streaming service.  Likewise, the US version of the Killing showed up on the US Cable channel AMC.  It was broadcast in the UK on Channel 4.  Although, I gave the US version a pass. Fans of the Danish series felt let down since the US series tried to make it a cliffhanger and not announce whodunit.

Of course, all the networks would prefer that you watch the version officially sanctioned for your locale.  That means people in the US should not have seen the Danish version of the Killing, or they caught it through the grey areas of distribution: buying another region’s DVDs or downloading from the BBC.  Although, the Killing is readily available in the bit-torrent underground, as I found whilst researching this piece.

Of course, buying another region’s DVDs is the best way for the studios to make their money, short of the BBC coming up with a scheme for non-UK residents to get a licence which doesn’t hit the UK licence holders.  Although, there is still the download underground, whether directly from the BBC or via bit-torrent.

It doesn’t take too long for a show to appear as a bit-torrent after it has been broadcast in the UK.  In fact, one episode of  BBC 2’s White Heat didn’t appear immediately after broadcast on BBC iPlayer.  I almost googled (or used a bit-torrent search engine) it to see if it was on bit torrent.  Although, I can come up with more reasons not to want to go the bit torrent route than to do it.

Amusingly enough, BBC world service radio is rebroadcast through Sirius/XM and Vermont Public Radio in the States, which makes me wonder why they aren’t blocking it to US IP addresses.  World Service TV is not available in UK, USA, Canada, Australia, Germany and Japan.  I know it is rebroadcast via cable in the US on Xfinity (at least WDC). Although, I am not sure the situation in other US media markets.

Personally, I prefer to remain within the law rather than skirt it.  Although, I would feel much better if I could make a contribution to the BBC for all their material that I use.  But, I have no television reception meaning I can’t access the material short of satellite or cable–which I am not paying for! Radio reception in my area is poor, and I access that material through the internet while broadcast.  No “live” viewing–no licence necessary!

Somehow, I find DRM blocking the end user from accessing the material as being counterproductive.  The entire idea is to make sure that the rights holder makes money, but if it isn’t reaching as large an audience as possible–are they really making as much money as they could? And while the free market system talks about personal choice, the ultimate person who should be able to choose is the consumer–not the producer.

Complaints about the Official iPlayer Desktop

I am going to come straight out and say that I have disliked the official iPlayer programme since it became “user unfriendly” due to various attempts at DRM. For the most part, I prefer to use the third party programmes such as get_iplayer and the now defunct ipdl.exe for their flexibility.

I do use the official iPlayer site to keep up with the latest BBC programmes and news, but that is pretty much it. Except for this case, I wanted to see Paul Murton’s Grand Tours of Scotland. It was originally broadcast on BBC One, but lately it was rebroadcast on BBC HD. Sometimes, get_iplayer will record HD material, but Grand Tours of Scotland was not recording not matter what I did.

An alternate choice is to buy the DVD, but that doesn’t seem to be available. Neither does the download avenue, which is my ultimate last resort (trust me, if ITV would package Time Team on DVD…).

Well, my real last resort actually was the official iPlayer programme.

First off, I do not like official iPlayer programme’s DRM which requires that I watch the downloaded material within a 30 day period (which goes to 7 days once one begins to watch the episode). The main reason is that it forces me to watch the material which can build up. There are other reasons as well dealing with portability of material since I have to watch any downloaded material on a TV attached to a computer. This is instead of using a UPnP device to view the material.

Secondly, The quality of the official iPlayer programme in HD leaves quite a bit to be desired. While the audio can play fairly reasonably, the video quality is jumpy. I place this on the official iPlayer programme rather than my computer since HD material which has been downloaded with get_iplayer will play using VideoLan’s VLC Media Player Software with the type of results I would expect from an HD broadcast. Of course, DRM precludes me watching this BBC iPlayer material with third party software.

I thought the BBC wanted to get this material out to as many eyes as possible, which I would like to think they would prefer to do in a quality manner. That is that the material is playable in a manner which is acceptable. It’s annoying that the HD quality of the official iPlayer programme is this poor. I’m hoping that this will be rebroadcast in standard definition sometime soon. At least before I cry Ruth from the motion sickness caused by the official iPlayer programme’s HD quality.

I know you read this (part 2)

Especially since I know how to get your attention, but it isn’t something that my relations who work for Auntie haven’t heard until they are sick of it.

I know the BBC’s (and ITV’s) point of view about preserving digital rights and all that. It’s not just the BBC since other entities are involved (E.g., US Public Broadcasting and The Discovery Network). The problem is that there is still revenue haemorrhaging which can’t be blamed on the BBC iPlayer being pirated to the Internet.

Whilst the boffins are trying to keep people from downloading material which bypassed the iPlayer’s Adobe Air DRM, the material still makes it to the internet on Pirate Bay and Files Tube. It doesn’t take too long for something like a Being Human, the Tudors, or Even the Michael Portillo Great British Railway Journeys to show up as downloads in HD format. One site,, sells the material.

The other gripe I have with the official iPlayer is how the catch up service tends to be erratic, with episodes being up for a week to much longer. Not to mention that there is a 7 day lifespan once an episode has begun to be watched, and 30 day lifespan without viewing. I reckon that Michael Portillo Great British Railway Journeys runs anywhere from 10-32 1/2 hours (10 for series one 22 1/2 for series two) which is far more of Michael than I want to sit through at once.

I realise that it is blasphemy to suggest that the iPlayer material should have an additional charge in addition to the licence fee, but there must be a way that this material can be delivered digitally in a reliable manner that earns money for the BBC. Why should something like make money selling this material whilst the BBC loses out?

And the regional issue, couldn’t you also look the other way at that? After all, the official iPlayer material plays anywhere once it has been downloaded. Likewise, one can buy the Region 2 DVDs and watch them anywhere in the world with a region free player. I have to admit that the regional restriction isn’t that much of an issue, but any pay service should be a bit more liberal in who can access the material.

My preference is to acquire this material from legitimate means, usually iPlayer or purchase of the DVD. On the other hand, it is annoying to find that this material is freely available (in fact more freely available–e.g., the Goodies complete and Time Team) via download.

There is a market for this which can earn money for the BBC. It is a shame that the BBC is not working to exploit it: both in terms of revenue and increased audience for its products

Posted 16/02/2011 by lacithedog in BBC, BBC iplayer, DRM, get_iplayer, iplayer, ITN, ITV, Piracy