I was listening to the first backstage.bbc.co.uk podcast* today, they talk about Digital Rights Management, and it’s related subjects – specifically as it applies to the BBC’s situation as a public broadcaster in the UK and the changing methods of media consumption.  

There’s a wide range of viewpoints expressed, and it’s really a good listen. They don’t go into a lot of technical detail, but there is a lot of discussion of a very broad range of really new technologies – so you might need to have a web browser handy.

There’s two things I got out of this:
First of all, I’d really love to work for the BBC’s R&D Labs (either that, or Google). Michael Sparks (I think) mentions a number of very cool sounding things that they’ve been.. err… researching and developing, and it sounds like it could be a fantastic opportunity to put all those crazy ideas I’ve had to the test.

Secondly, the podcast reveals that there’s a very complex legal environment around digital distribution of BBC content, particularly as it relates to access control and things like that.

An example is given where The BBC tried to find just one piece of work in the massive BBC archives which they owned all the rights to.  It turns out that they had to actually examine the contracts and manner of employment for all the people involved in the production of that one musical recording – not just the musicians, but the conductor, sound engineers, editors, etc.

There is also discussion about how external content-creators are reluctant, or unwilling to set a specific price for online distribution in many cases.

Miles Metcalfe makes this wonderful comment towards the end (~49:29):

“What content creators are arguing – and I think it’s not a very nice thing to argue – and what they’re saying is: Look, our customers are bastards, they’re thieving monkeys, and we don’t like them. We want them to buy the stuff, and we won’t trust them not to be anything else.”

I think it fairly well sums up what the various media companies’ attitudes in regards to DVDs, Games and Music.

* Folks, you need a shorter name – y’know: “BBC Backstage Podcast”.

Edit: and, of course – I hit Publish in Live Writer, instead of Save Draft. 

I meant to add a bit more on how the BBC is setting an excellent example which our (Australia’s) own ABC would be well advised to emulate.  That discussion however, quickly leads to the sad state of broadband in Australia…  (Not so much speed and reach/coverage, so much as data costs). Which I’ll leave right alone (for now).

No comments to ““Our Customers are Thieving Bastards””

  1. Thanks Will, the BBC generally is a good place to work ;)

  2. will says:

    Thanks for putting together a great podcast, Ian.
    I hope there’s many more like it to come.