BBC submits plans to copy protect Freeview HD listings

The BBC has been criticised for its plans to copy protect high definition Freeview content, by encrypting certain data that only manufactures the BBC deem trustworthy will be given the decryption keys to. The BBC says that the plans, which have been submitted to Ofcom, would prevent piracy, according to an article by the BBC.

Only the TV listings would be encrypted, as encrypting the actual content is not allowed. This would prevent software which didn't meet the BBC's (or, as is more likely, the HD content provider's) copy protection standards from recording content using TV listings provided by the BBC, according to an article by ZDNet UK.

It goes without saying that TV listings can be obtained from alternative sources, such as the Internet. Whilst the BBC claims its plans will reduce piracy, Labour MP Tom Watson believes it will reduce consumer choice. Many of the cheaper set-top boxes use open-source software, which can, naturally, be modified by anyone. Manufacturers using this software could therefore have a tough time getting a decryption key to unscramble the TV listings.

The transmission and reception of the content would remain unaffected, but a set-top box without the right permissions would not be able to use the TV listings, and therefore be unable to schedule recordings. However, with some additional hardware or some determination, it is likely that the pirates the BBC talks of could find ways round the protection.

Ofcom will make its decision on 16 September, when all responses to the plans have been received.

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