Proxy server for BBC in USA
January 31, 2010 5:57 AM   Subscribe

Is it illegal to set up a proxy with a UK IP address allowing use iPlayer to view BBC programs? If not what is the best way (reliability, safety) to do it?
posted by NorthCoastCafe to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Not precisely what you're looking for, but if you or someone you know has a box in the UK, iPlayer Grabber might help you watch the shows you'd like.

Useful to shift stuff out of the seven day window iPlayer implements as you then end up with a standard movie file which doesn't have to be streamed. Seems to break every now and then as the author and The Beeb play tag, but when it works its great. Sorry, I can't help you get content, but being able to dl might help ...
posted by Mutant at 6:10 AM on January 31, 2010 [3 favorites]

I can't say that it's legal, more like a gray area. I'd guess that you wouldn't be prosecuted for it even if you did violate a law. People from the UK use proxies all the time to use US-only sites like Hulu and they never get in trouble.

If I were to do it, I'd find a company that will help you set up a VPN. The free proxies out there are too unreliable for daily use. You may have to pay a subscription fee, but if you an anglo-phile, it'll be worth it.

Then you'll be able to watch BBC iPlayer, the ITV Player. 4 On Demand, and Demand Five.

There's also the live streaming sites (which are actually legal to use in the UK) TVCatchUp and Zattoo.
posted by inturnaround at 6:40 AM on January 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

From the BBC iPlayer terms & conditions page, section 12:

> You agree...
• not to attempt to, or assist any other person to, copy, reproduce, lend, hire, broadcast, distribute or transmit in any other way the BBC Content in whole or in part other than by using the "Link to this Feature"or as permitted in these Terms or to circumvent or remove the digital rights security measures embedded in the BBC Content;
• not to attempt to, or assist any other person to reverse engineer, de-compile, disassemble, alter, duplicate, modify, rent, lease, loan, sub-licence, make copies, create derivative works from, distribute or provide others with the BBC iPlayer BBC iPlayer Desktop in whole or part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms and to the extent permitted by law.

It doesn't explicitly forbid proxying their service but it makes pretty clear that redistributing iPlayer content or setting up mechanisms to do it violates their agreement.
posted by ardgedee at 6:51 AM on January 31, 2010

As to your original question (the legality) the BBC's Ts & Cs stipulate that by using iplayer, you agree to be legally bound by those terms and conditions, and that "Downloadable BBC Content is available for download within the UK only." But frankly, I wouldn't be too worried about that.

To the practicalities, a simple way to do what you want is to go for a UK-based virtual server and install a proxy on that. I personally use Linode -- they rock and they now have a data centre in London.

I would guess that (a) they won't be able to tell the difference between that and any other UK-based PC, and (b) even if they did, what are they going to do -- pursue you across continents? The BBC is a different kind of animal from the MPAA so I would think it's highly unlikely. (They've been pursuing me for a TV licence for years but they only ever send threatening letters. I don't need a licence since I don't watch broadcast TV, but they like to pretend that everyone in the UK is required to get a licence just for owning a TV.)

BTW, another interesting thing to play around with is the get_iplayer program, if you use Linux or another Unix variant. It allows downloading without using the BBC's iplayer program itself, so maybe you can sidestep even agreeing to the boiler-plate Ts & Cs in the first place :^)
posted by BrokenEnglish at 6:59 AM on January 31, 2010

My guess is that the only regulation which might be being broken, by your viewing iPlayer content from overseas, is the agreement between the various content providers and the BBC over geographic limitations on distribution. If the BBC can be shown by the lawyers representing these content providers to have failed to take reasonable steps to police these limitations then they could be in trouble. Stopping people from either providing or accessing the service from a UK proxy probably falls outside the realm of "reasonable steps" at the moment.
posted by rongorongo at 8:39 AM on January 31, 2010

Many already exists. They probably play Ip-address-tag with the bbc...
(Google for "iplayer abroad" gives a bunch of sponsored and non-sponsored links)
posted by nielm at 9:46 AM on January 31, 2010

"Downloadable BBC Content is available for download within the UK only." But frankly, I wouldn't be too worried about that.

Just to mention that the BBC isn't particularly cosy when it comes to its income: people are regularly imprisoned for not paying their licence fee (outrageously, it's most commonly women, especially low-income and single parents), and they have, in conjunction with the government, set up an entire criminal enforcement infrastructure to ensure it is collected.

While I agree that at present iPlayer infringement isn't really on their radar, it's getting to be big business for them: millions of people are using it. If it does come on their radar, don't assume they'll turn a blind eye. At least the RIAA can't actually throw people in jail.
posted by bonaldi at 2:04 PM on January 31, 2010

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