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iPlayer exploit causes furore

Alex Christie

27 March 2008
In case you
haven’t heard, the BBC have made most of its iPlayer programmes available to the
iPhone. This has caused a great deal of commotion on the internet. This is
mainly due to a few people spotting that because the iPhone doesn’t support
Flash the content must be streamed with out any Digital Rights Management. It’s
very straight forward to write some code that pretends to be an iPhone and have
the BBC servers send you your favourite TV show unrestricted.
The immediate
benefits of this are obvious: you can download shows to you iPod, iPhone or
other mp4 playing device and watch your favourite TV shows on the go. The more
complicated issue is the one of Digital Rights Management, these have been
discussed at great length but for me, personally, I can’t get passed the fact
that it all seems to be a smoke screen of complication to prevent abuse. I mean,
the BBC basically publicly announced the iPlayer would run on the iPhone in
order to jump on the iPhone hype bandwagon. They then wrote an article to say
they had ‘fixed the hack’, giving a fairly dim view of the people who had used
this exploit. Of course this was non-sense as all they’d done was make it a
little more complicated to do, a few hours later and the same exploit was
possible (and still is).
There are various
discussions to be had to do with publicity, ownership rights and abuse of
copyright, fine. What I think most people don’t realise in this discussion is
Freeview, digital TV, whatever you want to call it is mpeg2 broadcast over the
air unencrypted and non-DRM, this means that with a very basic amount of
technical know-how you can record programmes straight off the air in better
quality! How is this any different to the madness over online content?
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