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XBMC and The BBC

Several forum users have brought to our attention this article from the register. Here’s the scoop (from the article):

The BBC has quietly updated its hugely popular iPlayer with a verification layer that closes the door on open source implementations of RTMP (real-time messaging protocol) streaming, The Register has learned.

The Beeb applied the update to its online video catch-up service on 18 February, just four days after Adobe Systems penned a corporate blog post about its “content protection offerings”.

The tweak means that free RTMP plugins offered by the likes of the XBMC community – whose code is based on the GNU General Public Licence (sic) v2* – can no longer stream iPlayer content. The latest iteration of XBMC’s plugin was created in May last year and was being used by UK viewers to play TV and radio catch-up content from the BBC’s iPlayer service.

While we understand the BBC’s reasoning for the decision, we surely don’t agree with it. Add to that, a publicly funded media organization has far more obligations than a typical private one.

XBMC could easily be modified in a way that would allow playback of the streams, though it could never be included in the official binaries due to the wretched DMCA.

We hope that news of this change spreads quickly. Feel free to submit this story as well as the one from The Register to your favorite news sites. If anyone from the BBC would like to engage in a public discussion, we would very much welcome it; see our contact page for details. Also, be sure to take their online survey and tell them how you feel. Remember, this change affects far more than an XBMC plugin…  all open-source BBC playback implementations are at stake.

*librtmp, the library used to access these streams, uses the lgpl license.