[Scottish] Re: DRM

Robert Johnston robert at pausebuttonedit.com
Wed Feb 21 14:31:06 GMT 2007

> On Wed, Feb 21, 2007 at 09:20:48AM +0000, Daniel Owens wrote:
>>> So DRM is about making your computer refuse to obey you - its owner.
>> Why would you want to ask your computer to break the agreement under
>> which you obtained somebody's copyright material?
> "Because it's my computer" might be one answer.

Or, 'because it's my material'.

The BBC is something of a special case, in that we (the British  
people) collectively own it, and (if we've been good and paid our  
license fees) have already paid for its in-house content -- whether  
we've consumed it or not.

The BBC retains copyright of anything produced in-house -- so, for  
example, in-house writers do not receive royalties on sales of DVDs  
or CDs containing material they wrote. The royalties go back into  
funding the BBC. Likewise, overseas sales revenue on BBC products  
goes back into the BBC. This is fair enough, I think, but leads on to  
the following question:

Seeing as we've paid for the content already, and none of the revenue  
from the content goes back to its creators, should license fee-payers  
have to pay again for in-house BBC products?

Why can't the BBC allow license fee-payers to log in to its site  
using their license number and download free (in all senses of the  
word) BBC in-house content?

That they're talking about having us re-pay for content we've already  
paid for is injury -- DRMing it would add insult.

One response the BBC might make to this would be that the revenue  
stream from domestic sales of DVDs would dry up if people were able  
to access the content for free; a solution to that is to add value to  
for-sale products by allowing the creators to make, e.g., DVD extras  
(minidocumentaries, commentary tracks or whatever) independently and  
package them along with the BBC in-house product, retaining their own  
copyright on the extras and licensing it to the BBC for exploitation.  
In fact this is already quite a common practice.

Regardless of the rights or wrongs of DRM, these are sound reasons  
for the BBC to avoid it, at least as regards their own products. Of  
course they'd have no such control over products licensed from  
independent producers.

I made all these points when I filled in the form online, and I'd  
suggest anybody who agrees with them should do the same.

NB -- I personally am not keen on DRM per se, but I don't think the  
above points depend on your view of DRM.


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