[ubuntu-uk] Ubuntu & TV licensing

Neil Greenwood neil.greenwood.lug at gmail.com
Mon Sep 25 09:48:44 BST 2006

Interesting discussions...

IANAL, but these are my opinions.

In Sean H's original mail, he included this quote:
>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."

The last sentence is key - if it's not currently being broadcast, you
don't need a license. I'm not sure if streaming a program from a
server would count as broadcasting if multiple users can watch at the
same time, but I feel it wouldn't count.

Various people mentioned TV Detector Vans.
These can certainly pick up computer monitor output (I'm not sure
about LCD screens, but CRTs work the same way if they're for TV or
But I don't think the Licensing people use them much anymore. The law
has changed so that they can presume that anyone who doesn't have a TV
license is guilty unless they can prove their innocence. The onus is
on the person accused, as far as I can see it.
Maybe the public didn't realise the implications of the change in the
law, but I feel this was a definite step in the wrong direction.

Tony said:
>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.
In an ideal world, this is true, but note my point above about being
able to prove that this is the case...

>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
I mentioned detector vans above. I think you can still associate an IP
address endpoint even when accessing a multicast connection... I could
be wrong, my IP/networking knowledge peters out when it gets to

It comes down to a question of 'are you comfortable taking the risk', I guess.

As I said at the beginning, IANAL, and my legal interpretations could be wrong.


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