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  1.    #1  
    This afternoon I was a little bored so I decided to see if I could create an IPlayer app as a sort of challenge to myself. A little over 3 hours later and I have a working app - I'm not kidding it was that easy.

    Now, I'd love to release the app for all UK WebOS phone users to enjoy but I have some doubts regarding the BBC's response to similar apps on similar platforms.

    Take the story of BeebPlayer on Android for example: the app was used and praised widely for a fair amount of time until one day the author posted this on his blog:

    beebPlayer discontinued - Dave Johnston's posterous

    I'm sorry to announce that I have removed beebPlayer from the Android Market and ceased all further development of this application.
    As one of the commenters for the post said: "Dave's lack of comments and terse announcement speak volumes", implying that of course the BBC must have intervened with the app's development. This is confimed somewhat here:

    Where beebPlayer went EuroDroid

    So here's where I'm up to in terms of what I need to understand:

    1. Has anyone ever tried to develop an IPlayer for WebOS before? If not, are developers avoiding doing so because of BBC Policies?
    2. Does this app actually violate any BBC policies regarding IPlayer? I've read the syndication policy and can't fathom whether I'm a rule breaker or not...
    3. How much demand is there for this app? I'd rather not release it and potentially recieve a cease-and-desist from the BBC if only 5 people are going to use it.


    If you have any answers or general comments, please post as I'm between a rock and a hard place on this one.
  2. #2  
    Hi mate,

    Thanks for posting this - it's very exciting to see that you've managed to get it working. This is one of the features that I miss the most on my Pre - it's a big shame Palm haven't partnered with the BBC to bring us an official app already.

    With regard to the legality of what you're doing it's difficult to say. If your app doesn't attempt to circumvent any rules or guidelines (eg, attempting to make it work outside the UK) then I don't see why there would be a problem.

    Obviously I don't know what was said between Dave Johnson and the BBC, perhaps we could look into contacting him to find out?

    To my knowledge, nobody in the webOS community has released an app to attempt this in the past (and I keep a pretty eagle eye on the app catalog & homebrew scene). There is an app called Beeblisten in the official app catalog which allows you to listen to BBC iPlayer (radio only, including previously aired episodes) & this has not been flagged by the BBC.

    As for demand, we can only guess, but I think you could safely assume that the majority of UK Pre/Pixi owners know what iPlayer is & would see it as a huge benefit to be able to watch it on their phones.

    I guess my best advice (though it pains me to say it as I want to see your awesome app released ASAP!) would be to try & contact the Android dev, & also contact the BBC to ask their permission. At least then if they serve you a Cease & Desist letter then you can show that you had goodwill and did try to go about things the correct way.

    In summary, I really don't see why it would be a problem - if the app only works in the UK & it only streams the available content within the correct time periods then I would imagine it'd be fine.

    In any case it goes without saying that I'd very much like to try out your app, if you'd be willing - good luck in the future & keep us updated

    errade
  3. #3  
    Worst comes to worst you can always release via homebrew if there are problems getting it into the official app catalog.

    I am guessing ads are working? I could see the BBC getting upset if the ads weren't working.
    Palm Vx -> Treo 600 -> Treo 700p -> Centro -> Pre (Launch Phone 06/06/09) -> AT&T Pre Plus with Sprint EVDO swap -> Samsung Epic 4G w/ Froyo
  4. #4  
    Thought I commented earlier but didn't seem to go through, anyway will start afresh now.

    It's nice to see that you have been able to get an app working that allows this funcionality, I certainly would be interested in a well integrated app of this type. To also back up what errade has said about beeblisten, it seems to have had > 200 downloads (0.99) in under 3 weeks, for me that is relatively good. Considering that the beeblisten app probably appeals to a smaller audience than an Iplayer app would, I could imagine that your app would have a fair bit of interest from UK users, especially if it was nicely polished.

    Personally I hope that you are able to get this app to comply with BBC policies and will be able to release it. IMO I see an app of this type being essentially the same concept as a tv/laptop, you're just allowing the user to access the publicly available content.


    Quote Originally Posted by NickDG View Post
    Worst comes to worst you can always release via homebrew if there are problems getting it into the official app catalog.

    I am guessing ads are working? I could see the BBC getting upset if the ads weren't working.
    I wasn't aware that Iplayer used ads, I assumed all bbc was content was now ad free.

    Pip
  5.    #5  
    Quote Originally Posted by errade View Post
    Hi mate,
    To my knowledge, nobody in the webOS community has released an app to attempt this in the past (and I keep a pretty eagle eye on the app catalog & homebrew scene). There is an app called Beeblisten in the official app catalog which allows you to listen to BBC iPlayer (radio only, including previously aired episodes) & this has not been flagged by the BBC.

    As for demand, we can only guess, but I think you could safely assume that the majority of UK Pre/Pixi owners know what iPlayer is & would see it as a huge benefit to be able to watch it on their phones.

    I guess my best advice (though it pains me to say it as I want to see your awesome app released ASAP!) would be to try & contact the Android dev, & also contact the BBC to ask their permission. At least then if they serve you a Cease & Desist letter then you can show that you had goodwill and did try to go about things the correct way.
    I think the terms of use for radio might be different as I think most radio stuff is available worldwide for free, but I'll double check shortly just to be sure and also give beeblisten a download (thanks for the tip).

    Also, I appreciate the idea of contacting the BBC but, taking into account the EuroDroid article in my original post, they'd almost definitely shut me down before I even get started properly...

    Quote Originally Posted by NickDG View Post
    Worst comes to worst you can always release via homebrew if there are problems getting it into the official app catalog.

    I am guessing ads are working? I could see the BBC getting upset if the ads weren't working.
    It would be homebrew anyway, definitely. Skirting the syndication guidelines is one thing, trying to profit from it is a whole other barrel of worms that I wouldn't want to open up.

    You make an interesting point though, and one that highlights why I disagree with the BBC's choice to shut down beebplayer on Android:

    get_iplayer dropped in response to BBC’s lack of support for open source | Linuxcentre

    The BBC iPlayer is built on many open-source products and yet, in this case, they have failed to let open-source clients access the very same service. The BBC have clearly not followed the spirit of open-source here.
    I couldn't agree more. BBC's attitude towards developers stinks, and the fact that they are actively shutting down open-source clients is nothing short of a slap in the face for developers.

    Also, yes, I am offended as a developer, but I'm even more offended as a TV licence holder. As a resident of the UK and TV owner I am required by law to pay a fee to own a TV - a fee that is paid to an organisation that produces (I estimate) less than 1% of the content available on my television. And now I'm being denied the ability to watch the service on the device of my choice, in a legitimate way, because the BBC overly-sensitive about quality control and content protection on devices that they don't even bother to support.

    Anyway, angry rant over. For a full summary of the BBC's position see here:

    BBC - BBC Internet Blog: BBC iPlayer Content Protection Enhancements

    And thanks for your replies guys. I'll think on what you've said and come to a decision about what to do over the next week or so.
  6. #6  
    open source it and make it (source) avail via bittorrent
  7. mark6346's Avatar
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    #7  
    hi, i'm too from the uk and would love to have an iplayer app, one of the few apps i miss on my pre plus, so you have my interest in it.
  8. ldj
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    #8  
    Was the Android app a paid app? Im guessing that's where there issue may be? They probably see it as charging for their content (when its charging for your dev time really!)
  9. #9  
    BeebListen radio content can only be received in the UK.
  10. Benuk's Avatar
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    #10  
    Firstly congrats on building the app in three hours! That's some going and it probably says something about the penetration in the UK of webOS that it hasn't been done already!

    I would contact the BBC and ask them directly as errade has stated.

    You would think that the BBC would only be bothered if you where attempting to circumvent either the DRM or regional restrictions employed.

    In the interim you could always post the source or the .ipk here or elsewhere such as github or distribute through preware though the Palm web / beta feeds would be be better. Initially I would indicate that it was a proof of concept.

    Worse case scenario if it is not allowed by the BBC and the source is out there then people can always roll thier own.

    If you require any help testing I am sure that you would find plenty of folks who would participate here.
    Like Palm, idiots not so much? Visit MockTheAfflicted



    twitter: @benfysh
  11. mark6346's Avatar
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    #11  
    Quote Originally Posted by ldj View Post
    Was the Android app a paid app? Im guessing that's where there issue may be? They probably see it as charging for their content (when its charging for your dev time really!)
    I had iplayer on my se xperia x10 and it was free
  12. #12  
    Hi I'm the developer of BeebListen.
    Glad you managed to write an IPlayer app so quickly! Well done!
    For the audio content, it took me a frustrating amount of time to find the right streams, battling through the various levels of indirection, and get them playing on the pre.
    I guess the key differences between to the audio on demand content and the video content is that the BBC provide an interface for the AOD, for the 3rd parties to use. They also provide audio streams that are not secured.
    As far as I understand, the video content is available in flash using the RTMP protocol, or RTSP for the iPhone (I may be wrong). But I do know they are secured using some kind of token. So to write a video iPlayer app you would have to circumvent that security.

    Incidently, I have emailed the BBC to ensure I am not breaking the terms of use of their audio on demand feeds in BeebListen. They may yet come back to me and say they are not happy. However, I believe I am on safe ground as countless internet radio devices use the same feeds.

    By the way 200+ downloads, is "downloads" not purchases. There have been 2 updates and those numbers include each download of that. So I have almost earned enough from it to buy my wife a bunch of flowers to say sorry for the lost time I spent writing it
  13.    #13  
    Quote Originally Posted by Benuk View Post
    In the interim you could always post the source or the .ipk here or elsewhere such as github or distribute through preware though the Palm web / beta feeds would be be better. Initially I would indicate that it was a proof of concept.

    Worse case scenario if it is not allowed by the BBC and the source is out there then people can always roll thier own.
    Good point, and one that I'd already considered: thank to the somewhat 'viral' nature of open-source, even if the BBC were to shut it down it's not like it wouldn't still be out there as a sort of orphan work (I think?)

    Quote Originally Posted by expectingtofly View Post
    Hi I'm the developer of BeebListen.
    Glad you managed to write an IPlayer app so quickly! Well done!
    For the audio content, it took me a frustrating amount of time to find the right streams, battling through the various levels of indirection, and get them playing on the pre.
    I guess the key differences between to the audio on demand content and the video content is that the BBC provide an interface for the AOD, for the 3rd parties to use. They also provide audio streams that are not secured.
    As far as I understand, the video content is available in flash using the RTMP protocol, or RTSP for the iPhone (I may be wrong). But I do know they are secured using some kind of token. So to write a video iPlayer app you would have to circumvent that security.

    Incidently, I have emailed the BBC to ensure I am not breaking the terms of use of their audio on demand feeds in BeebListen. They may yet come back to me and say they are not happy. However, I believe I am on safe ground as countless internet radio devices use the same feeds.
    Thanks for the input Stuart, I have a better idea of what I'm going to do now (something along the same lines as what you're doing). As for the streams, you're correct: the mp4/flash-aided streams all require auth tokens. The 3gp one however does not and happily returns the rtsp address for the 3gp file in a .ram file (You have to ajax request the actual .ram to get at the underlying file but the streaming process is the same).

    Can I ask, how do you prevent people outside the UK accessing your content? Is it purely by restricting distribution on the app store or is it hard-coded into your app?
  14. #14  
    Quote Originally Posted by semprance View Post

    Thanks for the input Stuart, I have a better idea of what I'm going to do now (something along the same lines as what you're doing). As for the streams, you're correct: the mp4/flash-aided streams all require auth tokens. The 3gp one however does not and happily returns the rtsp address for the 3gp file in a .ram file (You have to ajax request the actual .ram to get at the underlying file but the streaming process is the same).

    Can I ask, how do you prevent people outside the UK accessing your content? Is it purely by restricting distribution on the app store or is it hard-coded into your app?
    That's interesting, I hadn't realised that they had made the video available using 3GP, that would make it a lot easier. My app works in a very similar way using the 3gp container for the on demand content, slightly differently for the live broadcast stream. I found the audio 3GP streams to be geo-locked by the BBC (using the IP address I presume). Even when I connected to alternate streams that were marked as "international". Also, I only made it available on the UK app catalog.
  15.    #15  
    Right OK. So the best way to confirm really would be to get someone from outside of the UK (maybe two people - one from Europe, one from USA), to try and access the stream. If they can't access it then at least my back is covered in that respect.

    I haven't got time to do this today as I'm back at university, but if you live in a part of Europe that isn't the UK or you live in the USA and would care to test this for me, send me a PM and I'll get back to you some time this week.

    EDIT: Forgot to mention, after reading through some more of the BBC's many guidelines it seems that they take issue with two main factors of third party clients: allowing access from outside of the UK for non-licence payers, and allowing the stream/content to be owned for more than 30 days (that policy is as old as VHS).
  16. #16  
    Hey, plenty of Yanks would like to listen to BBC on their Pre, so if you develop an app, please try to release it for worldwide distribution. Maybe BBC will let it pass. ;-)
  17. #17  
    Quote Originally Posted by semprance View Post
    I haven't got time to do this today as I'm back at university, but if you live in a part of Europe that isn't the UK or you live in the USA and would care to test this for me, send me a PM and I'll get back to you some time this week.
    I think expectingtofly tried the same while in beta and those outside of the Uk could not connect, which is another reason he only released the non beta version in the UK Palm catalog
    Thought of the day :
    No sense being pessimistic, it probably wouldn't work anyway
  18. StevenX's Avatar
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    #18  
    I'd be interested in this app too, even if it were to be released via homebrew.

    Is there any other service you could look at which might have clearer policies, or which you might find more useful? For example, TVCatchUp or SeeSaw?

    And have you looked into itv Player and 4OD/Catch Up? Personally, I'd way prefer a 4OD catch up app than an iPlayer one; if the ground work was done, and Channel 4's service could be brought in, that would be amazing!
  19. #19  
    Here's a shout out from Canada. We'd like to have that app too, being a Commonwealth country and all. Love that Radio1
  20.    #20  
    Quote Originally Posted by StevenX View Post
    I'd be interested in this app too, even if it were to be released via homebrew.

    Is there any other service you could look at which might have clearer policies, or which you might find more useful? For example, TVCatchUp or SeeSaw?

    And have you looked into itv Player and 4OD/Catch Up?
    TVCatchup can be watched on WebOS by going to mobile.tvcatchup.com (only works in the UK) - I think it's experimental currently, but I've tried it and it works nicely. Not sure about Seesaw though.

    I've checked out both 4OD and ITV player and neither give any easy way of accessing streams without having to do some serious page scraping and maybe some transcoding. I will investigate these further in the future though.

    Quote Originally Posted by sledge007 View Post
    Here's a shout out from Canada. We'd like to have that app too, being a Commonwealth country and all. Love that Radio1
    I appreciate the sentiment but by the sounds of it the streams would be inaccessible to you even if I did release it outside of the UK.

    Currently it's looking like my safest bet might be to release as UK-only on the palm catalog like Stuart did with beebplayer, seeing as I'm fairly certain I can't release homebrew on the Pre Central feeds without it being accessible by all.
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