The BBC Trust today questioned the plans of the BBC to provide a streaming service, but not downloadable content for non-Windows operating systems. Speaking in a BBC article, a spokesman for the BBC Trust said that they had approved the BBC iPlayer on condition of 'platform neutrality'.
As I mentioned in the blog yesterday, a streaming service brings the iPlayer to all platforms - but the WinXP version still holds the trump cards as offering the best quality of service and breadth of choice. When questioned on whether or not yesterdays announcement would fulfill the Trust's requirement of 'platform neutrality' a regulator confirmed: "We required platform neutrality across downloads, streaming and cable [set top boxes]."
Mark Taylor, Chairman of the Open Source Consortium welcomed the move, however, he warned that if this streaming service was a cynical ploy to avoid the threat of the European Courts levied against the BBC by the OSC earlier in the year - then he's most certainly against it.
It's a controversial topic, mainly as it is an issue which few have the ability to understand, yet affects everyone who use a computer. Computer rights & Digital Rights/Restriction Management, are not classic conversational topics in most peoples' eyes - yet they are fundamentally important issues as we move to a society whose foundation lies in technology and digital content.
I did a presentation on ethics in my final year at University. There are four levels to ethics. You have the framework, principles derived from that framework, the rules from the principles and then the application of those rules. At the moment, the content providers have enforced the framework, principles and rules. The consumer simply gets the choice of how to apply those rules (which is essentially no choice - either comply or you can't download content). We need to get back to the drawing board and re-write the framework in which we're operating. We need to have principles that we can all agree on (or at least democratically vote on) and then we need to have rules which both respect the needs of the content providers, and those of the customer. It should be the BBCs role to redress the balance, and I really hope the BBC Trust bares its teeth on these issues.