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May 7, 2007
BBC Trust Issues DRM/Download Decisions
Back in February there was a bit of a scuffle because the BBC had, among other things, decided to use a Microsoft DRM suite to lock up certain of its content downloads. At the time the BBC Trust, their oversight body, promised a more thorough review and further decisions.
According to a comprehensive piece on Ars Technica, those decisions are now out. The Trust had to negotiate a complex maze of ownerships while balancing Cartel desires for absolute control (e.g.a proposal to eliminate downloads altogether) with clear viewer desire for un- or at least less-fettered access.
Reading Timmer's piece as well as the source BBC Trust announcement, it appears they've agreed to split the baby. Some things are not going to be available for download, some will have time-locked short use DRM, and some things will have more relaxed controls. The Trust also agreed to revisit at least some of its decisions in two years to evaluate how they're working out.
The Trust also admitted that public respondents were overwhelmingly opposed to a platform-specific DRM system, such as Windows Media. Despite that, the system remains, but with a promise to revisit the issue every six months. Clearly the Trust is aware of (and seems to be in negotiations with) platform-neutral vendors such as Real. But for now it's WMV or nothing, so WMV it is.
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