...from, Microsoft and itself? I am pleased to be able to pass on this warning, received via Euan Semple. Are you happy with the following?
"The BBC Executive proposes a digital rights management solution which would require consumers to be using Windows XP (or above) and Windows Media Player 10 (or above) to be able to access seven-day TV catch-up over the internet."
If these proposals from the BBC's On Demand, Public Value Test report (pdf download), concern you; then please take a few minutes to respond to the online consultation here (especially Q5) about the On Demand service, and the proposed BBC iPlayer. (Wonder where they got the i from?
The document also raises issues of ownership and accountability. These were clearly highlighted by Sam Nelson, Computer Science, Stirling University and he has been kind enough to allow me to quote from his posts to a JISC newsgroup:
"If there isn't an open standard good enough yet, the BBC should put the whole thing off until there is. Any on-demand content they produce now needs to be entirely accessible in several decades' time using methods we haven't even thought of yet.
"it's barely a generation since it was OK to wipe and reuse master tapes of programmes after broadcast. What will we fail to foresee this time? Are we going to make that sort of mistake again? This stuff is part of who we all are, whether we like any of it or not, and we shouldn't be handing over any element of control over it to any commercial concern."
There is a glimmer of hope on the horizon, in the PVT report, the Market Impact Assessment by Ofcom states:
"A platform-agnostic approach (i.e. not reliant exclusively on Microsoft’s DRM solution) would lessen the adverse impact of the proposals on the market for media player and DRM software and would increase the consumer benefit.
"We propose to require the BBC Executive to adopt a platform-agnostic approach to rights management within a reasonable timeframe. The MIA notes an expectation that the BBC Executive plans to develop a Real Player alternative in the near future. Our understanding is that the BBC Executive aspires to offer an alternative DRM framework, which would enable Apple and Linux users to access the service, but has yet to identify a satisfactory solution. In either case, we will expect this to have been addressed within 24 months.
Whilst the above is to be welcomed, the reliance on DRM is of great concern, as is the proposal of the Executive to develop an alternative based on the media player from hell.
The BBC is one of our greatest national assets and is of world significance. Recently it has made great strides in the provision of digital assets, such as the pilot of the Creative Archive. It is vital that this status is not undermined by those who have no real interest in our cultural archives and promote restrictive digital practices. After all it's us wot pays the licence, guv.