Register Hardware has just published a news story I wrote about content control on Freeview HD. What does this mean for the punter?
Well, in real terms, I suspect very little. As you can see from the story, there won’t be any restrictions on your ability to record if you have a Freeview HD PVR. So, you won’t suddenly find that someone has decided you cannot record a film to watch later.
Where there will be restrictions is in making copies of programmes in High Definition, but the guidelines that have been laid down suggest that you will always be able to make at least one copy – and where a programme has already been broadcast in high definition elsewhere in the world, without restrictions, then it shouldn’t be restricted in the UK. That seems to me a tacit admission that, in terms of preventing piracy, if a show’s been broadcast elsewhere then the cat is already out of the bag.
The one area that did cause a lot of concern during the consultation was with regard to open source software, like MythTV. For those who aren’t in the know, that’s a piece of software that runs on standard PC hardware, and is based on Linux. It provides all the features you would expect in a digital TV recorder, and quite a few more. And a major worry was that systems like Myth could be locked out of recording Freeview HD by the licensing requirements for the Freeview EPG.
One of the conditions that’s been laid down by Ofcom is that the necessary information should be available on a royalty free basis, which will certainly help. But there are some within the open source movement who are vehemently opposed to any sort of content control or ‘Digital Rights Management.’ That’s an entirely principled stance, but I hope that some way can be found to accommodate software like MythTV within the new content management system for Freeview HD.
With the decision only announced today, I’ve not had time to contact too many people for responses, but when I hear more I shall post again. And in the meantime, if you are involved in projects like MythTV, feel free to add your comments below.
The full Ofcom statement is here, for those who like reading such things.