I have just learned on BBC NEWS that the BBC have launched a new service: online TV. Yay! By using the so-called “iPlayer”, it is possible to download and watch BBC programmes up to a week after the broadcast. Once downloaded they can be stored and viewed on the computer for thirty days, after which time the files will be deleted automatically.
Sound good, right? Nooooooo, of course it doesn’t. It would be wonderful to be able to watch missed shows immediately, without having to wait for re-runs. But there are some very significant problems with this service.
To begin with, users interested in using the iPlayer are required to have Windows XP on their computers, and anyone else can just sod off. Yuck. So the BBC, a publicly funded institution, is essentially favoring a monopolistic software giant. Even I can tell you that this is not a good way to start.
Of course the BBC have promised to make this service available to Apple OS X users, and I’m sure that will happen eventually, but even so, there is still no mention of GNU/Linux users. That does not bode well.
And then there is this whole DRM thing. Such a pointless waste of recources, I think. What with YouTube, usenet, p2p-downloading and bittorrents all over the internet, why should I switch to the iPlayer? I can download many, no make that *any* TV series, and watch them today, tomorrow or next year, all completely gratis and unencumbered by any of the unreasonable restrictions the iPlayer imposes. So what’s the point of using DRM then?
You know, it’s a nice gesture, but it is nothing more than that. Even if they make iPlayer available to Linux users, they will not use it. I won’t use it. After all, why should I, when I can just as easily download everything for free? There’s no DRM restrictions on the complete season 4 of Star Trek Voyager that I’m downloading right now, is there? Let’s see … nope, plays just fine.
And it’s not just me, mind. Everyone I know, all my friends, and some of them really are computer illiterate imbeciles, have learned to download movies and TV series. It’s on of those basic skills everybody acquires, even if they don’t know anything else about computers.
The BBC, it would seem, are just as much behind the times and clinging to straws as the big shot movie/music producers in Hollywood. We should pity them really, poor saps. I only hope they will come to their senses soon, because it really is *only* a matter of convenience.
Everything’s available, that’s not the point, whether there is an iPlayer or not. It’s just that downloading it through official channels is more *convenient*, that’s all.