Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Evidence suggests broadcasters like the BBC don't want our money

Some copyright holders and their lobbyists claim the reason people infringe Copyright is because they don't want to pay, and that copyright infringement is the largest single problem reducing their revenue potential. Evidence I've seen in my decades involved in the copyright revision process suggested neither are true, and that barriers put up by the copyright holders are the largest incentive to infringe and the largest barrier to revenue potential.

The BBC is an example of a broadcaster I would like to pay money and subscribe to (not only for Doctor Who), but that continues to put up barriers to me doing so. I am not a subscriber to a BDU, which is one of the common tied sales used by broadcasters. What potential customers like myself want for television and movie content is a subscription service like Netflix which isn't tied to any specific BDU or Internet provider, and which works on enough devices that it works on devices which we own. It's not just millennials that value Netflix more that broadcast or cable.

The BBC already have the technology in place, but thus far refuse to make the service available for their own "business" reasons. Within the UK the BBC iPlayer offers a streaming service that works on nearly as many devices as Netflix does (I didn't see my Boxee Box), but this service is not made available outside the UK.

There is a separate iPlayer for BBC Worldwide, but it is tied to Apple controlled devices. I have sent feedback at least once a year for a few years about this problem, and this year someone in the "BBC iPlayer (Global) Team" sent the following nonsense:

The BBC iPlayer UK and the BBC iPlayer Global are two separate entities. The UK iPlayer is available on Android and via the UK BBC iPlayer website, The global iPlayer is only available on Apple devices at this time as they are able to enforce licensing rights on a region by region basis while other providers have been unable/unwilling to enforce such actions.

In other words, Apple lied to them about the capabilities of their encrypted media platform suggesting that the restriction the BBC was requesting is possible or even reasonable. This dishonesty, as well as their total disrespect for the property rights of technology owners, are a few of the reasons why I will never be a customer of Apple. Content delivery which is tied to the use of Apple devices is effectively unavailable to me.

There are now rumors that the BBC may be removing content from Netflix. While this wasn't their latest seasons of shows, I have enjoyed viewing old seasons of shows which I didn't access in some other way closer to the air date. Given the nonsense response from the iPlayer Global team I bet out-of-touch broadcasters like the BBC are behind the recent useless attempts at geoblocking by Netflix. While this business problem created by copyright holders like the BBC can't be solved by technology, Neftlix is forced to do a bit of theater to distract copyright holders into thinking they are doing everything they can. I get the impression that Netflix as a company is more honest than Apple, and won't outright lie to copyright holders about the capabilities of encrypted media systems.

The reality is that in whatever regions the BBC refuses to make their content available in a way that returns revenue to the BBC are regions where the viewing of BBC content won't return revenues to the BBC. It is entirely unreasonable for the BBC to be putting up barrier to receiving money, and then whining when they don't receive that rejected money.

These types of barriers are typical. Copyright holders put up one barrier after another for people to access their content through mechanisms authorized by them, driving people to access that content using easier unauthorized mechanisms. While the solution to eradicating these unauthorized mechanisms has always been to reduce the barriers to the authorized mechanisms, copyright holders continue to try to pass the buck elsewhere for their self-inflicted problems.

Jan 16, 2015 update:

There are further reports about Netflix US removing Doctor Who and other BBC Programmes.

And later in the same day there were reports that Netflix Renews Deal for ‘Doctor Who,’ ‘Luther,’ More BBC Series

Feb 24, 2023 update:

An automated bot at Google flagged this article as violating their SPAM policy. This is a reminder of the problem with trying to use AI as an editor.

This is a policy governments should be looking very closely at, removing any third party intermediary liability to ensure it is authors and not intermediaries that are responsible for content.

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