BBC Negotiates With Producers For ‘A World Beyond DRM’

The BBC wants to move to “a world beyond DRM”. Future media and technology unit director Ashley Highfield, as part of his initiative to placate an open-source community disgruntled by iPlayer controversies, told Groklaw two additions to iPlayer’s Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) DRM were under consideration – an open-source DRM for the interim and a long-term hope to abandon rights limitations altogether.
It’s an ambitious plan (maybe more of a wishlist item) that would require another license agreement be struck with independent producers’ body Pact. The BBC had earlier managed to convince producers to allow their shows to be distributed online for limited time periods and under reuse restrictions so as not to eliminate their resale potential.
Highfield: “We want to get to … a much more flexible world where the content would be free of DRM. Now, that as an outcome would be of benefit for the audience, would be of benefit for the BBC. We’ve got to find ways in which that would not harm the rights holders’ business. And that really is, I suppose, a challenge.” But he said the parties had “already started these conversations“.
Costs: iPlayer has cost around £4.5 million, Highfield said – part of a £130 million, five-year plan to transition from tape to digital, on-demand shooting, storage and distribution. An anonymous former iPlayer developer today tells The Register: “The disorganisation was incredible. The management had lost track of where they wanted [iPlayer] to go. It was the biggest mess I’ve ever worked on.”
Bandwidth: Highfield also told Groklaw he had added the ability to iPlayer users to turn off bandwidth sharing when not using the P2P software in response to “a lot of unsolicited user feedback”. He conceded the BBC needed to look further at giving users more control and flexibility over allocating their own bandwidth.