Carefully, Correctly Wrong (diffrentcolours) wrote,

GNU/Linux users of BBC Websites

In a recent article, BBC Head of Technology Ashley Highfield has claimed that the BBC websites at bbc.co.uk only have 400-600 GNU/Linux users. There's a petition going round to collect signatures from us, which I expect will get 600 signatures very quickly.

The claim is incredible - if true, it means that my office represents ~10% of the BBC's entire GNU/Linux usage. Either far more GNU/Linux users are pretending to be on Windows than I would expect, or Highfield is downplaying the number of GNU/Linux users accessing BBC services on line, in the same way that he downplays the Defective by Design protests.

It may make sense for him to do so; the BBC is coming under fire for spending £130 million of license-fee payers' money on software which is tied to Windows XP and Microsoft-specific Digital Restrictions Management. An article I linked recently shows the depth of ties between Microsoft and Auntie, and the Free the BBC campaign exists to oppose this.

Please forward the petition link to your local LUG, favorite IRC channel, LiveJournal community etc. and encourage UK GNU/Linux users to sign, and sign up to the Free the BBC Mailing List. Only when the BBC provides content in open formats without DRM which can be accessed from any platform and operating system will we have a fair, free and equal service.

Update: Since this post seems to be linked from the BBC Internet blog, I'd like to reiterate my position that really the numbers game is kind of irrelevant, but getting people involved in fighting the BBC's support of a XP-only, DRM-crippled solution is important. The cop-out that the BBC spews about rights-holders not providing content withour DRM is exactly that; the content providers know as well as the BBC does and as well as we do that DRM does not stop piracy, particularly when we have the same programming being broadcast free-to-air on Freeview. It's the BBC's job to secure reasonable terms for "foreign" content that they screen, and let's not forget that it's in the interest of content creators to get paid to have the BBC distribute their material. This isn't about GNU/Linux versus Windows, it's about the BBC stimulating a healthy ecosystem of ways to access (and to pay for) content.

And while you're here, random visitor, do feel free to join the Free Software Foundation and Electronic Frontier Foundation, two organisations which are fighting on the right side of this issue.

(Cross-posted to debian; via minnesattva; from kaet)
Tags: digital restrictions management, free software
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