TV3 On Demand service for mobile suspended because of content breach

TV3’s On Demand video service for mobile has been suspended while the broadcaster investigates a breach allowing an undisclosed number of users to download content to their mobile devices.

A spokesperson for TV3 says the breach was picked up quickly, although she was unable to go into further detail about the method used or how much of the service was affected. A security patch is being worked on, she says.

“Obviously we take this sort of thing extremely seriously it is theft, pure and simple, but we’re also realistic that it’s part of doing business in the digital age,” says the TV3 spokesperson.

Digital rights management is important for video content providers in order to secure programming from overseas providers. Broadcasters are required to show they have the capability to secure the content for the region it is licensed to, which is why much of TVNZ OnDemand is unavailable outside of New Zealand.

The majority of TV3’s On Demand videos are served up in Flash, which isn’t supported by iOS devices. The company provides a smaller selection of videos for mobile devices using HTML5 Video – which doesn’t natively support digital rights management (DRM), much to the consternation of many broadcasters.

On Thursday, Futuretech Labs chief technology officer Scott Judson wrote a blog post slamming TV3 for an easy work around for downloading content from its website. His particular method uses the app Free Video Downloader Plus Plus to download copies of the video.

If a video can be played back through the Mobile Safari browser, Free Video Downloader Plus Plus is able to download it to the device. Similar apps exist across the Apple App Store, mostly used to download YouTube videos.

“The government is spending a s#!t ton trying to stop people torrent TV, while one of the main broadcasters can freely do the same thing,” writes Judson in his post.

This reporter repeated Judson’s method on Thursday. Network issues at this end made downloading the full file impossible, but the prompt to do so was there and so were the initial stages of the download.

At the time I also tried the method on TVNZ’s service. This didn’t work as TVNZ uses Flash to display video on all web browsers, relying on its OnDemand app to display videos on iPhones and iPads.

TV3 hasn’t confirmed if this is the method used, or a separate problem.

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