Fixed BBC iPlayer hacked again

Just hours after the BBC released a 'fixed' version of iPlayer, a programmer has hacked it so it can run on Linux, Mac and Windows machines
Written by Tom Espiner, Contributor

Just hours after the BBC said it had fixed the iPlayer streamed TV service to prevent DRM-free file downloads, a London-based programmer has bypassed the new protection.

Paul Battley, a developer for crowd-sourced reviews site Reevoo, wrote on his blog on Thursday that he had "defeated" the fixed iPlayer code.

"BBC News proudly announced the BBC's victory over those of us who had figured out how to download their iPhone iPlayer streams," wrote Battley. "I am happy to announce that I've defeated them once again!"

Speaking to ZDNet.co.uk on Friday, Battley said that he had asked a colleague to use an iPod Touch, combined with a debugging proxy, to watch communications made by a legitimate iPlayer access. Battley then used plug-in requests to look through the Javascript to work out the changes that had been made to the iPlayer code. He then rewrote his own original Ruby iPlayer interface "hack" code.

"I did it mostly for entertainment and for the challenge of doing it," said Battley. "Also, I'm a Linux user, and the BBC iPlayer originally was only for Windows — I felt a bit alienated. The BBC released the iPhone version of iPlayer, and there's no Linux support."

Battley added that one version of iPlayer does stream to devices that can use Flash Player, and that Flash does work on x86 versions of Linux. However, unhacked versions of the iPhone don't have Flash capabilities.

The iPlayer hack released on Thursday can run on Linux, Windows and Mac operating systems, Battley claimed, and circumvents Windows-based digital rights management. Legitimate iPlayer downloads expire after a fixed time-period of 30 days on a PC. In a test on a Ubuntu desktop PC, ZDNet.co.uk confirmed that Battley's program works as claimed, successfully downloading an unencumbered copy of the TV programme 10 Days To War — These Things Are Always Chaos and playing it on the non-Windows DRM-compliant VLC video client.

The BBC had not responded to a request for comment at the time of writing. However, in its story announcing that the iPlayer had been fixed, the BBC stated that it expected people to hack the iPlayer again.

"The BBC admitted that it was most likely facing a cat-and-mouse game with hackers intent on circumventing copy protection," said the BBC story. "It's an ongoing, constant process and one which we will continue to monitor," said the corporation in a statement.

Thanks to reader dogStar for alerting ZDNet.co.uk

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