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BBC iPlayer Ban on Open Source

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Open source has taken another blow, as the BBC have added a content protection mechanism that means open source RTMP (real-time messaging protocol) plugins can no longer stream content from their popular streaming tool, iPlayer.

The security measure implemented by the BBC is a SWF verification layer. SWF is just one of a number of well-guarded RTMP content protection measures, meaning that It is currently impossible to create a fully compatible open source RTMP client.

The iPlayer’s ban on open source, was first noted by a user of the XBMC open source RTMP client, at the XBMC Community Forum:

“BBC’s content delivery network have turned on ‘SWF Verification’ which is not implemented by XBMC. It probably can’t be added safely, as it is can be considered a ‘copyright protection’ mechanism, and so covered by the DMCA (in America).”

The SWF Verification will terminate connections from RTMP clients that fail to supply an authorisation key. Users wishing to view iPlayer content, will now have to rely exclusively on Adobe’s proprietary Flash plugin.

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