• Free our Streams

last modified September 6, 2010 by strypey

Strypey's initial email  to the TVNZ Webmaster:

>> Kia ora

It's great to see public tv stations making free-to-air programming
available online.

I am running Android on an Acer Netbook. Android runs on a GNU/ Linux
software stack, but is very limiting in what a user can do to customise
it. Both browsers (the Minefield build of Firefox and Chrome) can play
videos on YouTube, and some other sites, but on the OnDemand site there
is simply a black box where the player would be.

TVNZ is publicly-owned, and publicly-funded. As a member of the public I
would appreciate being able to watch OnDemand on any browser, on any OS,
without  proprietary software like Adobe Flash Player. Wikimedia have
been doing some great work on an entirely free code/ open source video
system for Wikipedia use, and even Google have provided the option of
HTML5 video tags for those who don't want to use Flash.

For more detailed technical advice, I recommend contacting the NZ Open
Source Society.

BTW This contact form doesn't work particularly well with Android
either.

Ka nui te mihi
Danyl Strype <<

 The Webmaster's reply:

>> Hi Danyl,

Unfortunately only proprietary software will deliver the media in an
encrypted stream to the standards that many of the distributors require
(Warner Brothers, HBO etc).

Basically they state that you must deliver their copyright material
using these approved delivery mechanisms - all of which are proprietary.

Cheers
Hugh <<

To me, this is simply an argument against DRM (Digital Restrictions Management), but I can see it's beyond the webmaster's control.

Where to go from here?

To me there is a strong argument for making any shows funded by public bodies available DRM-free. I'm thinking particularly of This is Not My Life, the first series of which was funded to the tune of $6.8 million by Creative NZ. Put it under a CreativeCommons licence, and let people stream it in a format that is platform and browser neutral. Once the infrastructure is in place, the next challenge is to convince TVNZ to give preference to publicly funded programs from around the world that are similarly CC-licensed, campaign for the licensing in other jurisdictions, and pressure content industries to allow free software and DRM-free streaming of their content by OnDemand.