Two iPhone developers have been slapped with a 10-page cease and desist order from the BBC for trying to create an app that would cache iPlayer content.
The application, Rewat.ch, has been in development for the last few months, and the two-man Manchester-based team Camiloo dropped the BBC a line when development started. But it was only when the application was submitted to Apple that the BBC noticed and decided immediate action was called for.
The app allows users to select programmes from the iPlayer's RSS service, then downloads the content for watching later when network quality might not be up to scratch (such as when travelling on the tube). Camiloo reckoned it would be OK as the application notes the expiry date attached to the programme, and deletes it when that date arrives - providing the same functionality as various desktop clients did.
But those clients all disappeared when the BBC changed its verification layer. That change hasn't stopped Rewat.ch working, but the cease and desist order certainly has.
The BBC is adamant that the iPhone service is streaming only, and is probably bound by agreements with the companies creating the content, but what's harder to forgive is that the corporation didn't make that clear to Camiloo earlier.
The company contacted the BBC's iPlayer team, and were told that the matter was being looked into and they would be contacted. Hearing nothing, the company took a risk and developed the application.
One could argue that Camiloo shouldn't have taken that risk, but it's a shame the BBC couldn't have responded earlier to a reasonable request to use its content, even if only to let the developers know it wouldn't be allowed before everyone's time got wasted. ®