In the future, all Content will be blocked because of legal obstacles... January 7, 2014 1:03 PM   Subscribe

If you live in the UK, like me, and are wondering why you cannot access the link in this Metafilter Post, despite the confusing explanation you see, this blog post asks the same question. The reason is probably government legislation.
posted by vacapinta to Etiquette/Policy at 1:03 PM (50 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

When I tried following it, the link to the blog post was blocked; Trend Micro InterScan says "The requested site is either a known or suspected source of malware."
posted by Lexica at 1:05 PM on January 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


Huh, how weird.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:06 PM on January 7, 2014


For anyone who doesn't want to click on any links. Someone emailed the BBC to ask and got this response:

Update: The BBC has responded confirming my suspicions that this block is the result of government legislation.

[...] making the content available to UK audiences is not as simple as removing the ads. bbc.com/Future is a commercial website produced by BBC Worldwide. Under the BBC's fair trading rules, commercial websites are not allowed to receive unfair promotion from the BBC's public services. This prevents us from being able to provide Future on bbc.co.uk


You can parse that however you like.
posted by vacapinta at 1:08 PM on January 7, 2014


How incredibly stupid.
posted by rtha at 1:12 PM on January 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


We're sorry, the link you requested, "BBC apology memo for lack of access to BBC Future" is not available from the UK due to licensing restrictions. If you would like full access to the memo, it is in the unlit basement, guarded by a panther.
posted by selfnoise at 1:18 PM on January 7, 2014 [23 favorites]


The BBC seems to be operating on an upside-down version of capitalism, whereby you pay more (ie the license fee) to get less service.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 1:24 PM on January 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


Kids, when I was young there was an internet, but it consisted of things like message boards and email and ftp archives. Then there was this new and exciting www protocol and there was a dream of no boundaries and no borders and it didn't matter how you grew up you would have the same access to information as everyone else! There would no longer be information elites and people took these ideas and made webpages out of them.

Man have we fucked things up since then.
posted by cjorgensen at 1:25 PM on January 7, 2014 [12 favorites]


I'm not sure that I see a problem with this. I'm guessing it is done so there can be no accusation of commercial profiteering/favouritism on what is supposed to be run as a public service within the UK.

I'm pretty sure Future has been blocked for much longer than a month too, closer to six at least.
posted by 0 answers at 1:26 PM on January 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure that I see a problem with this.

This made me laugh.
posted by cjorgensen at 1:38 PM on January 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


Luckily, there are easily available ways to circumvent this sort of nonsense: mediahint for firefox frex.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:42 PM on January 7, 2014


We're sorry, the link you requested, "BBC apology memo for lack of access to BBC Future" is not available from the UK due to licensing restrictions. If you would like full access to the memo, it is in the unlit basement, guarded by a panther.

So had the stairs.
posted by davejay at 1:54 PM on January 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


Luckily, there are easily available ways to circumvent this sort of nonsense: mediahint for firefox frex.

...sing Cocteau Twins lyrics at it?
posted by mykescipark at 2:12 PM on January 7, 2014 [16 favorites]


"If you want a picture of BBC Future, imagine a website blocking its own content - forever."
posted by Atom Eyes at 2:15 PM on January 7, 2014 [20 favorites]


The Internet is already so compartmentalized as to render it unusable from the one random location you happen to be in at any given moment. The solution is a VPN service (or the like) with a list of servers allowing you to continuously choose which country to surf from.
posted by klue at 2:17 PM on January 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


In the future, everything will be available on the internet, but, because of increasingly complex legislation and international IP treaties, any given website will be available to only on person on earth at a time. The choice is made randomly and access is provided for 3 minutes at a time. You can buy apps to tell you when your window will open, but each app is rendered obsolete by legislation or treaty within 36 hours.

Intellectual Property then ceases to exist, being debatable "property" and definitely not "intellectual."

Basically, "we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new dark age."
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:42 PM on January 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


Fucking Tories.
posted by Artw at 3:08 PM on January 7, 2014 [4 favorites]


So when they decided to use bbc.com/futures as the location of this site, there was no one in the room familiar with this rule who could have foreseen a problem? Couldn't they have just put it on its own domain like bbcfutures.org or something and saved a lot of wasted time having to deal with all the fallout?
posted by Rhomboid at 3:26 PM on January 7, 2014


...sing Cocteau Twins lyrics at it?

In fairness that seems to be a valid answer for all life's dilemmas.
posted by winna at 3:26 PM on January 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


This is the same reason the BBC website is no longer the vast and continually growing library of fascinating content it was a decade ago. The private media companies of Great Britain basically yelled "unfair being so awesome for free (or for a compulsory fee), you need to suck more," so they basically were obliged to suck. At this point you often can't even find a complete cast list from a BBC program on their website, let alone full credits, let alone, Thatcher forbid, anything that's not directly related to their programming.
posted by George_Spiggott at 3:28 PM on January 7, 2014 [9 favorites]


I've said before on this site that the BBC might be considered one of the four necessary parts of the state - a creative and communicative branch, to sit alongside the legislative, executive and judicial branches. To my mind, the idea that BBC future (or America, or whatever) should be restricted from license payers is as ridiculous as people being denied access to the UK Supreme Court gift shop because they happen to be British. It is beyond stupid.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 3:39 PM on January 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


The private media companies of Great Britain basically yelled "unfair being so awesome for free (or for a compulsory fee), you need to suck more," so they basically were obliged to suck.

Apparently, in order to prevent them from serving as competition for businesses, workhouses (like from Dickens) had to have worse working conditions than the worst alternative lest people prefer the to private employment. So that's pretty awful.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 3:43 PM on January 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


Making dying in a ditch competitive with the NHS is their other longterm goal.
posted by Artw at 3:48 PM on January 7, 2014 [12 favorites]


Was the link fixed? Because I had no problem viewing it whatsoever. I dunno if that's because I am in Canada, but I doubt it.
posted by Kitteh at 3:51 PM on January 7, 2014


What a crock. Its our BBC, we should be able to see it.
posted by marienbad at 3:57 PM on January 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


As an American I would be willing to pay a BBC license if I could legally sling the content to the US.
posted by cjorgensen at 4:01 PM on January 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'm sort of reminded of Rick Santorum's legislative efforts to force us to go through private companies to get National Weather Service data, despite -- or perhaps because of -- the fact that the NWS is a public entity and we're the ones who pay for it to produce that data.
posted by George_Spiggott at 4:15 PM on January 7, 2014


It'd be wrong to point out how easily circumvented it is, I guess.
posted by edd at 4:16 PM on January 7, 2014


Isn't this why we fought to leave? No internet without representation while drinking tea at some party. No access because of representation. Hmmm
posted by JohnnyGunn at 4:24 PM on January 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


Let's trade this article for Sherlock.
posted by humanfont at 4:43 PM on January 7, 2014


I would think the conversation would have gone like "No, the BBC can't produce a commercial website if the rules would prevent it from being accessed in the UK. Let's figure out a different way to do this."
posted by bleep at 5:50 PM on January 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


The reason for kind of this blocking is because the BBC faces criticism from commercial ricals in its domestic UK market that it crowds out commercial competitors and has unfair advantages from being a very large (its commercial critics usually emphasize "dominant") tax (license fee)-supported player in the market. The BBC (under govt regulation) strictly adheres to its no advertising policy in its UK services to blunt this criticism. BBC Worldwide is a separate commercial arm that is allowed to take in advertising revenues outside the UK. But allowing unhindered UK domestic access undermines the BBC defence against its commercial critics (some of whom would happily see the BBC reduced to the much smaller size of the US PBS or even dissolved completely ) - the worry is that the critics will cause the license fee (main source of BBC revenue) to be severely reduced or abolished.


To get an idea of the perspective and ferocity of commercial criticism of the BBC, the loudest lead voices are usually Rupert Murdoch and James Murdoch of News Corporation who would LOVE to see the BBC severely cut down or dismantled.
posted by Bwithh at 6:08 PM on January 7, 2014 [6 favorites]


Well damn, I would hate for some ravenously wealthy assholes to not make even more money at the expense of society as a whole. I was going to way "fabulously wealthy" but my phone picked a truer adverb
posted by lordaych at 6:22 PM on January 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


To Our Valued Readers:

Due to circumstances beyond our control, the future is postponed indefinitely.
Thank you for your continued interest in the present.

--BBC
posted by Pudhoho at 6:36 PM on January 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


Brits can't see something?
On BBC??

Oh shit, I'll tell you what's up without any censors.

It's a long lost episode of 'are you being served?' Mrs. Slocombe was all talking about her pussy when
posted by hal_c_on at 6:37 PM on January 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


Oh, Rupert Murdoch! Is there anything that you can't pervert or destroy?
posted by double block and bleed at 6:54 PM on January 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


"But the plans were on display . . ."
"On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them."
"That's the display department."
"With a torch."
"Ah, well the lights had probably gone."
"So had the stairs."
"But look, you found the notice, didn't you?"
"Yes," said Arthur, "Yes, I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying, 'Beware of the Leopard'."

Douglas Adams
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (But you all knew that)
posted by misha at 8:22 PM on January 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


I was once a huge Cocteau Twins fan...much to the dismay of my twin sons, Glizzen and Glazzle.
posted by malocchio at 8:34 PM on January 7, 2014 [4 favorites]


And now I'm led to wonder if there is such a thing as a misheard Cocteau Twins' lyric.
posted by malocchio at 8:39 PM on January 7, 2014 [5 favorites]


Its a question of competing, largely incompatable policy goals. There is a legitimate point. The UK government has a powerful media arm that dominates the TV and has a good share of internet too. If they were allowed to compete commercially in the UK market, they would harm their own country's economy. So they have a rule that they can't compete for advertising dollars in the UK, and they can't use licensing fees to start for profit companies for abroad markets. And to make that work, they're can't be a backdoor in the UK where everyone gets to see the shiny programming which would wipe out UK firms at home.

Is the trade off worth it? Depends on the size of the problem. If its just this one website? Probably not. More websites? How many?
posted by Ironmouth at 10:00 PM on January 7, 2014


In the future, everything will be available on the internet, but, because of increasingly complex legislation and international IP treaties, any given website will be available to only on person on earth at a time. The choice is made randomly and access is provided for 3 minutes at a time.

The future is here. It's called Overdrive.
posted by jyorraku at 10:52 PM on January 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


The BBC seems to be operating on an upside-down version of capitalism, whereby you pay more (ie the license fee) to get less service.

Not really. The BBC is fantastic value. The BBC has to toe a very gentle line between innovating and succeeding and not being seen to crowd out commercial rivals.

It's also about to hit a very challenging charter renewal period leading up to 2017 where it knows that, after having been kicked around by Blair's Labour, it's going to get a good kicking from Tory bedwetters who instinctively believe that the BBC is too successful for its own good, a failure that can only be rectified by handing it over to the private sector.

It is a favourite parlour game of right wing media owners and their op-ed writers - if a part of the BBC fails on commercial metrics (e.g. BBC4) then the BBC has failed, irrespective of whether it delivers on its public service remit. But if the BBC succeeds on commercial terms (e.g. Radio 1, 2) then the BBC has failed, because it has a public service remit and shouldn't be occupying mainstream space that corporates could fill.
posted by MuffinMan at 3:55 AM on January 8, 2014 [14 favorites]




And now I'm led to wonder if there is such a thing as a misheard Cocteau Twins' lyric.

if the mishearing results in a lyric which is an intelligible statement in any language, yes.
posted by winna at 4:29 AM on January 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


BBC Worldwide isn't funded by the license fee. We clear advertising for BBC World, which doesn't broadcast in the UK and is a commercial channel for overseas markets.
posted by mippy at 8:26 AM on January 8, 2014


Also, we can't access Hulu here, even though some of the shows on there are broadcast on UK free-to-air channels - the web-only content for Parks and Recreation was blocked here, even though the show has started airing ont he BBC now.
posted by mippy at 8:29 AM on January 8, 2014


The UK government has a powerful media arm that dominates the TV and has a good share of internet too.

The BBC is by no stretch of the imagination a government media arm. It is a corporation administered by a trust which is entirely independent of whichever party is in power, and the government doesn't tell it what to say. In fact one of the reasons it's continually under siege is that it is no more sympathetic to the government than it is to private media conglomerates, which means it can't count on any staunch allies except among those honorable enough to favor its independence over their own narrow interests.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:45 AM on January 8, 2014 [6 favorites]


It's times like this I wish that Leeds FA Cup clip was still on Youtube
posted by fullerine at 6:08 AM on January 9, 2014


whereby you pay more (ie the license fee) to get less service.

Well, the unique way the BBC is funded also means that it has to come up with unique other ways to work outside the UK, and BBC Worldwide is one of those ways.

Its our BBC, we should be able to see it.

It really isn't. It's sort of the British expat worker BBC that does lots of things that it wouldn't do at home, and everybody assumes that its being very BBC about it because it has the same accent.

Not quite the same as the D**ly M**l, whose US website offers up an endless stream of paparazzi photos of Z-list celebrities, while its British-facing one provides an endless stream of hate.

This is the same reason the BBC website is no longer the vast and continually growing library of fascinating content it was a decade ago.

Up to a point. A lot of that "library of fascinating content" was pretty marginal for a public service broadcaster, but survived because it was easier to maintain things like the Archers message boards or the Cult section within their tiny digital fiefdoms than, say, to release decades of interesting programming from the archives, because big aspirations mean engaging in broader internal and external politics, which never ends well for BBC projects.
posted by holgate at 10:52 PM on January 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


BBC.com has been blocked in the UK for a long time now. It's really not a Tory thing. It sucks, but in reality it's the BBC trying to look after its own interest by not giving Murdoch et al a rod. Cameron's awful internet filter is a completely different thing.
posted by derbs at 9:08 AM on January 10, 2014


If they were allowed to compete commercially in the UK market, they would harm their own country's economy.

Government, BBC, non-profit, or whatever, economic activity is potentially just as good for the economy as any other form of activity, and for public goods usually better. The only thing strong and diverse offerings from the BBC might harm are private commercial interests — not the same thing at all. It just happens that we live in a time when it is conventional wisdom to value private interests over public interests. It’s not the BBC’s fault that they don’t make the rules.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 3:39 PM on January 11, 2014


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