Jibble News Archive
BBC iPlayer DRM hack
BBC iPlayer has been available for a while now, but there have been a few things I still don't like about it. The iPlayer client started off as a Windows-only application that rather covertly stole lots of your bandwidth by installing a peer to peer network client which remained running even when you weren't using iPlayer. Crappy digital rights management meant that you could only watch downloaded programmes for a certain amount of time, and even then, things would tend to break and you would have to download everything again in order to watch it. After a while, they started to let you stream programmes directly from their website without needing to install this junk, but the quality was not as good.
Fortunately, a few days ago, the BBC made iPlayer available to iPhone users. The video quality is much nicer, and it doesn't contain any of that wanky DRM bollocks. The BBC iPlayer website currently determines whether you're using an iPhone by looking at the User-Agent header that the web browser sends to the server each time it makes an HTTP request.
So, using Firefox and Chris Pederick's User-Agent Switcher, it is possible to trick the BBC iPlayer site into thinking that you're using an iPhone, thus giving you access to the better-quality DRM-free downloads.
Spoofing the iPhone
Set your browser's User-Agent to something that looks like an iPhone:
Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU like Mac OS X; en) AppleWebKit/420+ (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/3.0 Mobile/1A543a Safari/419.3
Now have a look around the BBC iPlayer website and find your favourite episode of Eastenders...
Downloading the DRM-free video the easy way
So now it's trivial to get hold of DRM-free content from BBC iPlayer:
- Install User-Agent Switcher.
- Add a new User-Agent string to Firefox so you can pretend to be an iPhone.
- Go to the iPlayer site with your iPhoney browser and find something worth watching (hint: Eastenders).
- Right-click on the link it gives you and save it somewhere, giving the file an ".mp4" extension.
- Finally, play the video (as often as you like!) using VLC.
12 Mar 2008 - 13:04:17 PDT
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