(This column appears in the June 05 issue of PC Advisor)
What's the difference between eight days after and three weeks before? Nothing to nefarious internet download folk, apparently. For the BBC, on the other hand, it spells a whole lot of bother and - for one unlucky Canadian - a P45.
The BBC recently reported that Britain is leading the way in TV downloads, which just goes to show that we can still be the best at something I suppose. According to a study by internet monitoring company Envisional, the UK accounts for 18 percent of all TV episode downloads, just ahead of Australians who rack up 16 percent. Top of the internet pops was Fox's popular drama 24, with the UK sucking up 20,000 of the estimated 100,000 downloads globally.
The report then went on to plug the Beeb's Interactive Media Player (IMP) which it trialled last year. IMP is similar to its Listen Again radio service, but for TV programmes. Viewers can download shows up to eight days after they've aired. The report finished by saying that BBC "is looking to do a more expansive trial later this year".
But it appears that those pesky internet users couldn't wait and decided to put the concept to the test with the first episode of the new Doctor Who - three weeks before it was due to air. The 45-minute series debut appeared as rose1.avi for those who knew where to look. And quickly leaked its way around the rest of the internet, for those who didn't.
Clearly realising that internet users can't be trusted to differentiate between 'eight days after' and 'three weeks before', the BBC tracked down the culprit in Canada. The person responsible had access to a preview copy of the tape through the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) and was subsequently fired. Tough on downloading, tough on the causes of downloading, then.
Clearly the BBC didn't plan for this to happen, but the surrounded furore did keep internet blogs abuzz in the run up to the new Doctor Who. Either that, or the BBC really doesn't like Canadians.