There’s been much discussion of the UK’s archaic copyright laws as I’ve questioned the need for DRM and written about ripping DVDs and converting between multimedia formats. I’ve also criticised the BBC for it’s substandard iPlayer service (even if it does now stream content it still doesn’t allow offline playback on all platforms and, when it does, the DRM on the offline content is overly-restrictive). Well, here’s another example of DRM madness brought to me by the BBC – this time it’s a menu system on a legally purchased DVD.
My children don’t watch a lot of television, but there is one programme, In The Night Garden…, that is almost guaranteed to attract my three-year-old’s attention for a full 30 minutes (believe me, that is an achievement) and also provides a fair amount of delight for my one-year-old (I have to confess that I enjoy it too). It’s a very gentle programme, perfect for a spot of post-lunchtime relaxation, or for winding down before stories and bed. So, there we were, trying to calm down an overtired and slightly poorly little boy who was desperate to see Igglepiggle in the Night Garden and who doesn’t understand the idea of a TV schedule, when we decided that the DVD we had bought the boys for Christmas would be better used right away (and at least give us the chance to prepare a meal for the little people before a sleep).
On went the TV and the DVD player, in went the disc, I pressed the play button and was greeted with 2 and a quarter minutes of loud, high energy trailers for other childrens’ programming from the BBC. I tried to skip the trailers and to go straight to the menu but all attempts were greeted with a message that said “operation currently prohibited by the disc”. Now I can understand making me watch the legal notices, but forcing me to watch the trailers (on a DVD intended for children) is wrong. So I will be ripping the programmes from that DVD and re-recording them to disc without the menus, trailers, or anything else. In effect, BBC Worldwide is forcing me to break the copyright on a DVD that I have legally purchased – just to avoid the advertising.
I would complain to BBC Worldwide, but they only publish a postal address (no e-mail) for contact, so I can’t be bothered. And writing to Points of View won’t help either! In the meantime, I’ll leave my complaint on the Internet for any other prospective childrens’ DVD purchasers to consider…