Ofcom knocks back BBC DRM plans

Tentative sign that sanity might prevail?

BBC plans to copy protect Freeview high definition (HD) data have been dealt a blow by regulator Ofcom. It has written to the BBC asking for more information about what the benefits would be for consumers.

Initially it looked as if Ofcom would approve the plans but, during its two week consultation, it has received many responses opposing the plan.

Critics say a Digital Rights Management (DRM) system for Freeview HD would effectively lock down free BBC content.

In its submission to Ofcom, the Open Rights Group argued that such a system was DRM by the “backdoor” and that it would prevent things such as recording HD content for personal use.

“Ofcom received a large number of responses to this consultation, in particular from consumers and consumer groups, who raised a number of potentially significant consumer ‘fair use’ and competition issues that were not addressed in our original consultation,” the letter from Ofcom to the BBC read.

It asked the BBC to clarify the benefit to citizens, as well as outline how it proposes to address the “potential disadvantages” and offer alternative approaches to the issue.

Two cheers, then. But the forces of darkness aren’t routed yet.