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iPlayer On, iPlayer Off

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Software

The BBC's iPlayer has long been a thorn in the side of the Open Source community. Since it entered public beta in mid-2007, the BBC has consistently flip-flopped between completely ignoring FOSS users, serving them third-rate pacifier versions, and begrudgingly granting access to what Windows users have had all along. And the flipping continues.

The latest round of iPlayer headaches comes under the guise of SWF verification, a form of DRM used by Adobe to prevent unauthorized use of streaming content. Until recently, iPlayer — which uses Adobe's Real Time Messaging Protocol (RTMP) for streaming — did not utilize SWF verification, allowing non-Adobe media players to stream iPlayer content. This has given users the choice to view avoid proprietary applications while still having access to BBC content — content paid for out of their pocket. (Because it is paid for by a public tax, iPlayer content is only available to viewers in the UK.)

As of the 18th, however, that is no more. The developers of XBMC, an Open Source media player, appear to have been the first to uncover the BBC's activation of SWF, which was reported via the project's bug tracker the following day.

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