The Internet may connect the whole world in one glorious whole (assuming individual governments allow their people to be netizens) but that hasn’t stopped media companies from trying to limit who can access their content along territorial lines. Hence we have the dark art of geo-blocking.
Geo-blocking is practiced by websites or Web services seeking to keep their content within the confines of a particular territory. Geo-blocking is a contentious and controversial issue, as are the various methods – such as premium VPNs – people employ to bypass the restrictions place on them. Views on this whole issue formed the basis of last week’s ‘We Ask You’ column.
What Do You Think About Geo-Blocking & How Do You Circumvent It?
We asked you, What Do You Think About Geo-Blocking & How Do You Circumvent It? Many of you chose to air your grievances against this practice, and some revealed the methods they use to beat the geo-blocking websites at their own game. Most people begrudgingly understand why geo-blocking is implemented on a legal basis, but that doesn’t make them any happier about its widespread use.
Great points that were raised include how the practice of geo-blocking is making piracy or illicit file-sharing much more likely. If people had access to all the content they wanted, even if they had to pay for it, then far fewer would choose to cross the fine line between legal and less-than-legal means of obtaining said content.
In terms of circumventing geo-blocking efforts most people use either free proxy servers or premium VPNs. But neither of these methods are really open to those tech-unsavvy individuals out there. Which means geo-blocking is still an issue for mainstream Internet users.
Comment Of The Week
Comment of the week goes to DaveyJacobson, who, as well as the respect of myself and hopefully everybody reading this, receives 150 MakeUseOf points to use for Rewards or Giveaways.
I’ve encountered many geo-blocks in my day of wanting to watch content based in other countries (e.g. the UK, Ireland and Australia). Certain groups (e.g. channel4.com [UK], tv3.ie/player [Ireland], ABC.net.au [Australia]) employ a block that can only be bypass using a VPN connection whereas other sites (I won’t mention which ones) can be bypassed by a simple HTTP proxy.
There are many free proxies and/or services out there but often times their reliability isn’t the best. Is a VPN service worth it? For me, if I had the money I would definitely subscribe to a service like HMA or TunnelBear Premium because I watch a lot of international sports and some of which is only available through websites that require a VPN connection.
Hopefully, one day they’ll drop geo-licensing and make content available to the world. While I understand that they must make a profit, instead showing advertisements aimed at their host country, why not show advertisements based on the users IP address? I’m sure it would be a very lucrative gesture for company A to reach out to company B (whose based in another country) and have them pay for ad time on company A’s website because a lot of their traffic comes from users who live in company B’s country. I think it would be a great move! Does anyone else?
While the actual method suggested may be difficult or even impossible to implement, this comment questions the very existence of geo-blocking. Media companies, which are the main culprit for geo-blocking, are missing out on huge audiences and consistent revenue streams by limiting who can consume their content.
Advertising may not be the answer to everything, but when it comes to monetizing any aspect of the Internet it’s the primary choice. By opening up and advertising on a global rather than local scale, the rewards could be massive.
We will be asking a new question tomorrow, so please join us then. ‘We Ask You’ is a weekly column dedicated to finding out the opinions of MakeUseOf readers. We ask you a question and you tell us what you think. The question is open-ended and is usually open to debate. Some questions will be purely opinion-based, while others will see you sharing tips and advice, or advocating tools and apps for your fellow MakeUseOf readers. This column is nothing without your input, all of which is valued.
Image Credit: ToastyKen