Timeshifting web video for educators

Timeshifting web video for educators

Web video offers almost limitless access to free learning resources providing there is a high speed Internet connection, but schools can have patchy broadband and many services are subject to filters and restrictions. Back in the day (1980s) my teachers used to play us video clips on VHS video recorders. Recording TV footage was a way of time shifting broadcasts so they could be viewed by students at a later date and is seen as fair use of copyright footage that should be otherwise paid for. What is the digital equivalent of time shifting in terms of web video?

Downloading Youtube Videos

Youtube has a vast range of content from software tutorials to documentaries. I sometimes need to download videos whenever I am having trouble playing clips in class. I use the site Savefrom.net to download my clips in a variety of formats including HD and lower resolution video files.

Downloading BBC Iplayer Videos

BBC Iplayer streaming videos expire after a number of days or weeks. The website and apps allow videos to download but they are wrapped in Digital Rights Management (DRM), which automatically deletes the content after 30 days and the software restricts the devices upon which content can be played. A little known loophole is that content streamed to IOS devices uses the RTMP protocol which streams content without DRM copy protection. This means it is possible to capture the stream using suitable software and to keep it as a video file, which can be viewed on any computer without restriction.

I have been using a perl and Ruby on Rails based command line utility called get_iplayer that allows me to download BBC Iplayer footage including TV and radio shows without restriction. The downloaded shows do not expire. It takes a little while to get used to the command line syntax and the highest resolution I tend to be able to download is 720P. The utility works very well and there is even a web based interface but I find the command line easy enough to master. For example, I would enter the following command to download the latest episode of Click

get_iplayer get– http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b07ht943/click-designed-in-china-part-two

Time shifting is not attempting to download a web video permanently and it is not circumventing copy protection, because no restrictions are taking place. It is a convenient way to make use of a loophole to save a web video for later viewing on any device.

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