Archive for the ‘Television Licences’ Category

Television Licence Fee Fraud?????

Screenshot from 2018-12-29 14-47-10Seriously!

I’ve been getting obviously fake e-mails telling me there is a problem with my Television Licence. OK, they are using the e-mail addy that the BBC has for me, but these are fake.

And they are so obviously fake that it boggles my mind. First off, the licence number is wrong. Secondly, this isn’t how I pay my fee. Thirdly, my licence doesn’t expire at the end of this month.

I thought I would be nice and pass the e-mails on to the licensing folk, but they appear to not want to be bombarded with fake licence e-mails. And I’ve gotten a few of these, which I usually blow off. This one was too silly to not comment about.

headerAnyway, the Licensing Authority has a page on this nonsense for what it’s worth. One of the Licensing Authority’s suggestions is to check the e-mail address of the sender, which this one is fake.

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=http://www.bbc.co.uk/emp/releases/iplayer/revisions/617463_618125_4/617463_618125_4_emp.swf”

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).

As if we didn’t know this already…

Or the licence fee dodgers are correct when they complain about repeats on the Beeb.

According to the Radio Times, a Freedom of Information request has revealed that almost two thirds of BBC programmes aired last year were repeats. an average of 63% of programmes broadcast across the BBC channels (BBC1, BBC2, BBC3 and BBC4) during 2012 had already been aired. BBC3 was arguably the worst offender with 3,196 (85%) of its programmes coming from repeats. BBC1 transmitted 2,793 repeat programmes in the period, around a third of its output. 4,423 BBC2 shows were repeats. BBC4 had already shown 2,604 hours, or 78% of its output.

The BBC’s statement regarding reruns said: “Repeats on the BBC are carefully scheduled to reach different audiences. On BBC2, many of its repeats are of classic shows. For example, we have recently shown Dad’s Army and The Good Life, chosen to offer viewers an alternative to what the other channels are showing.”

I noticed they recently reran I, Claudius, which gets to my gripe that there are a lot of classic programmes in their archives which they don’t use: e.g., Take Three Girls and The Borderers. I should add that I’ve also been watching classics such as The Six Wives of Henry VIII and Shadow of the Tower which are both contemporary to the Borderers, yet they are complete and available on DVD.  Not sure how some series can exist fairly completely, yet others do not.  I know that sometimes this is due to the tapes being broadcast in other countries.

Anyway, it seems that some good new material is in the pipeline with Professor Mary Beard presenting a documentary on Caligula.   I’ve got to admit that I find Prof. Beard kind of hot in a sapiosexual way which means that this sounds seriously promising.  I need to rewatch the Pompeii documentary, but I remember another of her documentaries on the Romans which she truly demonstrated a love of the topic.  Although she joked to the audience at the Telegraph Hay Festival that “no one, but no one can tweet this, otherwise I will get into such trouble”.

Really now…

Anyway, it’s far too late for regrets now–I’m prepped for some serious intellectual porn!

See also: Hay Festival 2013: Mary Beard making Caligula documentary

Sponsor a Licence Fee Protester!

Ever since I’ve learned about people such as Peter and other people who actively protest TV licensing, I’ve had this thought that the BBC could post a list of unlicensed properties, or some other way that people like me could sponsor the licence fee for these people.

US Public Broadcasting allows for people to give gift “memberships”, why doesn’t the BBC allow for gift licensing?  It could even be on an anonymous basis!

Although, the advantage of sponsoring a Licence Fee Protester is that not only do I get to pay extra, paying their licence fee for them will annoy the heck out of the protester.

Of course, that defeats the purpose of licensing and getting the protesters to understand WHY they should pony up for a licence.

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 change.org petition against the O’Dwyer extradition attempt. Naturally, I signed it. This is too frightening to not sign.

Read more:

YES! LiveStation!

BBC Televised World News is available through LiveStation’s Premium Service!

I’m in heaven!

This makes absolutely no sense whatsoever!

In my desire to pay more than my fair share for BBC service, I came up with this story.

It seems that while the US House of Representatives is defunding US Public Radio, the United States is currently giving a grant of $4.5 million to the BBC World Service Trust!

In fact,  The Guardian reported that the U.S. government was considering an increase in BBC funding, the State Department denied that claim in a letter to the editor.

Go figure!

Well, actually, I can come up with an explanation for this.  The BBC has a much better reputation for accuracy and objectivity than does Voice of America.  On the other hand, depriving US citizens of an objective source of media (sort of since US citizens can access the World Service, sort of) is non-nonsensical.  Of course, control of information is one of the more infamous propaganda techniques.