[ubuntu-uk] Ubuntu & TV licensing

Sean Hammond sean.hammond at gmail.com
Sat Sep 23 19:33:19 BST 2006

In reading up a bit on TV licensing in Britain, the phrase "streaming
media" came up a couple of times.

For example, this site:


seems to be a good site for advice on the TV license. And on there, this page:


mentions "streaming media", but seems to be referring to hardware
(i.e. a TV card) as opposed to software applications. From the same
site, this page:


says "if you receive or record any television broadcasts (e.g. any ITV
channels, Channel 4, Sky, cable, streaming media), you will need a TV
licence" and further down "A 'television receiver' as defined includes
... TV-enabled PC ... streaming media, broadband, etc." although  "If
you do not use these for receiving broadcast TV signals, you do not
need a licence." And lastly on this page:


as part of their advice on what to do if an Enforcement Officer is
coming round they suggest you delete any software from your PC that
receives streaming media.

It seems pretty obvious that if you have a TV card and are using your
computer to watch TV you need a license. What's not clear is whether
in the absence of a TV card software capable of showing you streaming
video over broadband accounts. For example:

* Does a default install of Ubuntu, plus broadband connection, require
a TV license because of Totem Movie Player? (note that you can't watch
BBC stuff online with Totem because you need Real of Windows media
* What if I install Realplayer, so I can watch the BBCs videos online?
* Does installing MPlayer, Xine, VLC etc., or additional codecs (e.g.
w32codecs etc.) from Restricted Formats, make a difference?

Does anyone have any experience of this?

Other good sites of TV licensing info seem to be:




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