The events of the past two weeks (here, here, here, here and here) have clarified the BBC’s stance on allowing interoperability with open-source iPlayer clients. I have therefore decided to withdraw get_iplayer with immediate effect.
Ian Hunter’s post (Managing Editor, BBC Online) provided very clear guidance on the way the BBC feels about open-source applications accessing iPlayer streams. I have no desire act against the BBC’s wishes in this respect.
The BBC iPlayer is built on many open-source products and yet, in this case, they have failed to let open-source clients access the very same service. The BBC have clearly not followed the spirit of open-source here.
From the outset, exactly 2 years ago when I developed get_iplayer, my intentions have been to never harm the BBC but to just provide a convenient way for me to watch iPlayer programmes on my TV with the hardware that I own. However, the BBC clearly considers such methods to be somehow detrimental to their service and therefore with great regret I have decided to cease development.
I sincerely hope that, in the future, the BBC will make steps to support open source given that they have gained so much from it.
This is the reason adobe have issued the DMCA removal request for rtmpdump – the tool which allows saving of downloaded rtmp streams from sites that use the rtmp streaming protocol. I’ve had some more clarification. The DMCA removal request by adobe does not claim that rtmpdump infringes any copyright of adobe, but it claims rtmpdump can be used to infringe copyrights of others. It says in the letter:
The rtmpdump utility hosted on SourceForge.net (see URL below) can be used to download copyrighted works, such as those on www.channel4.com.
Well isn’t this kind of like saying that web browsers can be used to download copyrighted works – and almost all web site content is copyrighted; Maybe adobe should issue a DMCA removal request on mozilla.org? Does the fact that rtmp is used necessarily mean that the user cannot save the stream for time-shifting, fair-use or legitimate archiving purposes? The content could even quite possibly come under a creative commons license which can allow indefinite storage, copying and distribution with the right attribution.
As ever, I wonder what adobe’s motivations are here. Maybe adobe just don’t want their highly obfuscated protocols to become widely implemented in open source projects? Or maybe their protocol is sold on the basis of rtmp streams being secure and non-downloadable and now they must face the fact that it was not the case? Who knows? Is this just another example of the Emperor’s New clothes?
It would appear that the rtmp and rtmpe protocols have now been documented in detail according a story that just broke on slashdot.
I’d like to encourage readers who value such tools to nominate rtmpdump for Best Multimedia Project on Sourceforge. Just click the icon.
Update 24th May 2009: The entire letter can be now be viewed at chillingeffects.org
I’ve just found out today that the author of rtmpdump has received a DMCA removal request via Sourceforge for rtmpdump which
is was hosted by them. This is rather curious since Adobe publicly and officially announced earlier this year that they will be releasing the specification of the RTMP protocol on its public developers site.
Get your copy now from the very many downloads available on the internet. Looks like Adobe will have their work cut out for them given the sheer number of sites that host this software globally. There is no doubt that this highly dangerous piece of code will also turn up on many bittorrent trackers and file download sites.
Maybe Adobe should try to understand that if you publicly hand out the decryption keys for the streamed media that you have encrypted then trying to prevent the decryption of such data is somewhat futile. This is really just an elaborate obfuscation technique that the big media bosses clearly believe works.
Adobe, as you probably know, has a history of restricting open interoperability and free speech. Remember the Dimitri Sklyarov case?.
Update see this post for more info…