[ubuntu-uk] Ubuntu & TV licensing

Tony Arnold tony.arnold at manchester.ac.uk
Sat Sep 23 22:03:59 BST 2006


On Sat, 2006-09-23 at 19:33 +0100, Sean Hammond wrote:

> 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
> format)
> * 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?

I wrote to the TV about this during the World Cup, as I figured lots of
people at work would be watching matches on their PCs.

It was quite clear that if you watch a TV programme that is being
broadcast, no matter how it is received, either by aerial or broadband,
then you need a TV license in order to watch it. The exception to this
is that portable TVs do not need a license, so if you watch on a laptop
that is not plugged into the mains, then you do not need a license!

You don't need a license to watch material that is not currently being
broadcast, i.e., TV clips of past programmes etc.

I didn't ask your specific question, but there was no suggestion that
just because you have the software to receive broadcast material you
need a license. It's only if you actually watch something.

The real problem is can your watching of broadcast material over
broadband be detected? I don't know if a TV detector van can detect such
activity on a computer monitor. They could spot your IP address
accessing the servers, I guess, but then if you watch the multicast
version, they don't have that information either. I'm not advocating
watching stuff without a license, I just think the rules are not
enforcable with today's technolies

Tony Arnold, IT Security Coordinator, University of Manchester,
IT Services Division, Kilburn Building, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PL.
T: +44 (0)161 275 6093, F: +44 (0)870 136 1004, M: +44 (0)773 330 0039
E: tony.arnold at manchester.ac.uk, H: http://www.man.ac.uk/Tony.Arnold

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