[mythtv] BBC Freeview HD encoded/licensed EPG content proposal - comments due 2nd April 2010
ubuntu at tjworld.net
Fri Jan 22 16:26:54 UTC 2010
After the UK OFCOM rejection of the BBC's initial September 2009 enquiry
in November 2009 ("Open letter to the BBC on the BBC’s copy management
proposals" @ http://www.ofcom.org.uk/tv/ifi/tvlicensing/) the BBC has
returned with a more detailed proposal.
"Content management on the HD Freeview platform"
This request, which OFCOM is minded to approve, would allow the
encryption/compression of EPG (SI), on UK digital terrestrial television
(DTT) multiplex B (the HD FreeView multiplex) *and* other multiplexes
that cross-carry the multiplex B EPG, in order to force receiver
manufacturers to implement copy-protection as a condition of the BBC
licensing the Huffman look-up tables required to decode the EPG.
This would have particular implications for MythTV despite the BBC offer
to licence royalty-free since a condition of the license of the Huffman
look-up tables would be to implement content protection (see section
"The BBC proposes to licence its Huffman Code look-up tables on a
royalty-free basis and on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRND)
terms to any party who undertakes to comply with the content management
standards agreed and specified by the Digital Television Group. These
include consumer electronics manufacturers and also organisations
wishing to use the Huffman Codes as part of a receiver
system incorporating Open Source software."
Taken together with the content protection schemes suggested in 5.16
which include HDCP, DTCP, AACS and AS-128 or triple-DES:
"The BBC proposes that the content management technology which will be
required in order to obtain a licence for the Huffman codes will be that
currently set out by the DTG in the D-Book."
This looks at initial reading as if, not withstanding the BBC claim to
be prepared to license to "Open Source projects", that MythTV would
likely not be able to license the LUTs.
In section 5.3 "The impact of the BBC’s content management proposals on
competition in the receiver market" the consultation asks:
"Would the BBC’s proposals favour some equipment manufacturers over
5.28 A category of HD DTT products that might be potentially impacted by the BBC’s
licensing Huffman Code look-up table licensing approach is products that incorporate
Open Source software. The licensing terms for Open Source software typically
require that this software is made freely available to others to use, which may be
incompatible with and the licensing terms of the BBC’s Huffman Code look-up tables.
This issue appears to have been addressed by HD Freesat receivers that use Linux
Open Source software and implement similar content management technologies that
would be required by the BBC’s Huffman Code look-up table licence.
5.29 Ofcom’s preliminary view is that the BBC’s proposed FRND licensing approach for its
Huffman Code look-up tables, and that the terms of these licences will require the
inclusion of the same content management technologies in receivers is likely to
provide a level playing field between different receiver manufacturers. It is also our
view that the availability of Freesat receivers that incorporate Open Source software
and implement similar content management technologies to those proposed for the
DTT platform, that the BBC’s proposed Huffman Code licensing approach is unlikely
to prevent similar receivers incorporating Open Source software from being made
available to consumers on DTT.
Q7: Do stakeholders agree that the BBC’s proposed Huffman Code licensing
arrangements would have a negligible effect on the market for HD DTT receivers?
My concern is that the focus is on manufacturers of 'devices' - in other
words, discrete hardware.
The proposals appear not to consider individual citizens and consumers
who build their own 'device' from commodity PC components and operated
using MythTV or other similar software.
In terms of MythTV each individual user is a 'manufacturer' of a
'device' and therefore each user, not the project, would require the
license from the BBC.
I cannot see how the BBC could license to an Open Source project since
it isn't tied to hardware where copy-protection needs to be enforced.
Taken together with the intention that restricting distribution of the
LUTs would force manufacturers to implement the copy-protection
mechanisms, I can't see how the BBC could license to open-source
projects or users since that would reveal the LUTs to the world.
It would be useful for MythTV developers and users to submit their
responses to OFCOM before the April deadline. The previous consultation
led to OFCOM rejecting the BBC suggestion. It is possible that dialogue
now with OFCOM and the BBC might find a way for MythTV and other GPL
open-source projects and/or users to obtain a license.
---------- My response to OFCOM --------------
I previously responded to the September Consultation with my concerns
about the impact on Open Source projects and users.
I've reviewed the latest proposal and OFCOMs response and find my
concerns are even more acute. I do agree that the concerns about
protecting HD content from copyright infringement and mass-distribution
are legitimate - I'm just very concerned that in their attempt to
protect the content the BBC will severely restrict the freedoms of
citizens and license-fee payers in an area where individual innovation,
experimentation and education (the Free Open Source Software arena) are
the prime motivators.
In particular, although the BBC claims it would license the Huffman
look-up tables (LUTs) royalty-free and on non-discriminatory terms, and
to Open Source projects, in reality this would not be true.
Take as an example the most popular Open Source TV/PVR project, MythTV
(http://www.mythtv.org/) which is licensed on the terms of the GNU
General Public License and can be used on GNU/Linux, MacOS and Microsoft
Windows operating systems.
The BBC proposes, in effect, to use the encryption of the EPG as a means
to force 'manufacturers' to implement copy-protection in their
'devices'. The BBC also claims that preventing the distribution of the
LUTs is critical to that aim.
user themselves - not the MythTV project (a loose affiliation of
software developers and users around the world). The project creates
operating software to interface to tuners and record/process programmes
as well as DVDs and streamed Internet content.
There is no way the MythTV project itself could obtain a license to the
LUTs based on the current proposal since the project does not have the
capability to enforce copy-protection on the wide variety of hardware
combinations that the underlying operating system (GNU/Linux, MacOS,
Microsoft Windows) supports.
The user combines the MythTV software with their generic PC hardware,
tuners, and operating system to cause a PC to act as a digital video
recorder (DVR) - "the device" - as well as all the other functions a
general purpose PC can perform.
So on the face of it each MythTV user who wanted to receive the HD EPG
would have to ensure they met the BBC licensing requirement and
presumably the BBC would want some way to confirm that.
In this scenario the LUTs would be distributed widely and it is hard not
to imagine at least one user not respecting the license/copyright to the
LUTs and distributing them via the Internet - once out there the BBC
would be unable to prevent their widespread use. With this in mind it is
hard to envisage the BBC issuing such licenses based on its arguments
for why restricting distribution of the LUTs is
The freedom of users to build, use, experiment and enhance their own
devices using Open Source software projects would be severely restricted
by the current BBC proposal unless a specific fair licensing proposal
that directly addresses such users is forthcoming.
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