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Right Holders Seek to Stop Geographic Internet Address Masking

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013 (1:12 am) - Score 1,154

Not content with tackling Internet piracy it now looks as if some Copyright Holders want to stop people from accessing legal content in other countries by blocking services that allow you to go online via the Internet address (IP) of a different location (e.g. such as when you use a VPN to view UK online TV content from the USA). Satellite ISPs take note.

A large number of Internet services, such as Virtual Private Networks (VPN) or Proxy Servers, allow people to adopt the IP address of a different country. This is a particularly useful feature for some EU Satellite ISPs that would otherwise inadvertently restrict UK subscribers from services, such as the BBC’s iPlayer, if they didn’t deploy a service to give people the correct geographic address.

Similarly people in Iceland have no access to the likes of Hulu, Netflix or iTunes because, due to stringent copyright laws, Apple in all their wisdom have decided that hundreds of thousands of potentially paying subscribers should not be allowed access to their legal music and video content via local distribution (i.e. a good way to fuel piracy).

As a result Tal, an Icelandic telecoms company, decided to solve this problem by launching a service (Luxusnet) that allowed subscribers in Iceland to choose the IP address of another country (e.g. they could pick a UK IP and then use that to access iTunes in the UK via Iceland). But the Association of Film Rights-Holders of Iceland (SMÁÍS) claim that such geo-blocking measures break copyright protections and are thus illegal under local law. Meanwhile the ISP stated that the choice to access foreign content was the subscribers responsibility.

Snæbjörn Steingrímsson, SMÁÍS General Manager, said (TorrentFreak):

This argument does not hold, either morally or legally, in our opinion. In fact, we hear this exact same argument about torrent-sites. This is like saying people can buy contraband goods legally as long as they come to this country legally. There is no commercial or other economic activity in Iceland that could survive against such competition.”

In fairness we can see the need to be very careful when protecting copyright material, especially given the complexity of international distribution rights. Never the less in this case it seems likely to do far more harm, through the broad encouragement of piracy, by failing to develop new business models as a solution.

Similarly it’s also true to say that such services, depending upon how they’re implemented, can be used to mask the identity of an Internet user and thus offer some encouragement to online pirates.

Clearly people in Iceland want to use and pay for those services so why not make it available to them instead of forcing people down the very path that so many Rights Holders seek to discourage. Surely it is better to feed such demand by developing new ways to meet it.

Leave a Comment
14 Responses
  1. Avatar DTMark says:

    I think that your last paragraph nails it.

    I’ve already done my once-a-year trip into urban Britain to go shopping already and had a browse in HMV.

    Back at my PC I’m working through the back catalogue of an Italian DJ/composer called Pieradis Rossini checking out his older stuff on YouTube and making a list of stuff to buy on iTunes when I’m next on there. If it’s on there.

    “Not available in any shops”.

  2. Avatar zemadeiran says:

    Geo restrictions only restrict the potential revenue of said companies.

    If you take for example “The walking dead” which is held back in other countries due to content agreements with national tv networks etc.

    A whole new model has to be implemented in order to grow the user base.

    1. Avatar BT Investor says:

      Actually geo-restrictions protect the revenue of rights holders. People circumventing IP restrictions are denying the creative industry money they rightfully deserve from international deals. IP address masking is right up there with piracy as far as I’m concerned, and there should be a government crackdown on people doing it with serious penalties.

    2. Avatar zemadeiran says:

      Damn! You are completely correct!

      Thank you very much for correcting my mistaken thought cycle on this issue.

      People like yourself deserve a fucking knighthood!

      Who’s with me???

    3. Avatar Karen says:

      Id agree if you had said a knighthood and a slip of the sword 😉

    4. Avatar Chris C says:

      So ‘BT Investor’ please explain how witholding content protects revenues, you cant make money of something thats not for sale.

      eg. people sign up to netflix, buts uk library is poor, they then use VPN/proxy to login and netflix pops up a message about them been on holiday but lets them view the american exclusive content (which is much bigger than uk), netflix then block all VPS/proxies, and the customer then cancels netflix because the uk library is poor value. Revenue lost not gained. The customer then decides sod it I will pirate instead.

      GEO blocking should be one of those things you turn a blind eye to, its like how microsoft used to operate with technet, they were well aware people werent just using for testing but they were also aware their technet customers were people who would otherwise pirate so ‘some’ revenue is better than ‘no’ revenue.

      The problem here is greed, basically it seems apple for whatever reason cant maximise profits in iceland, so have decided to be like ok if you dont change your laws to suit us we simply wont sell in your country, the whole idea of having seperate licenses for each country is greed in itself. The biggest cause of piracy is availability. The industry really hasnt a clue and isnt helping itself.

  3. Avatar dragoneast says:

    And don’t people use IP masking to get around the censorship of repressive regimes, which aren’t just governments or third world countries? But if it’s not making money it doesn’t matter does it? People always have better blinkers than racehorses.

  4. Avatar hmm says:

    just turn the internet in to a crap tv shopping channel or switch the thing off for good
    it is a waste of time having high speed connection for the current rubbish of crumbs they offer and in the future you can tell your children once upon a time there was the internet

    1. Avatar zemadeiran says:

      A true fucking philosopher if I have ever heard one…

  5. Avatar cyclope says:

    That’s what government and those cretins that lobby government for more and more control of the net, want, they want it is become a means of bringing broadcast TV and movies into our homes, they want control of the interwebz to profit from it,

    They don’t want us to be able to browse without us buying something They don’t want us to use it as a free way to comunicate with each other, they also don’t like that they cannot control what we see or do on the internet even if it is totally within the law
    Maybe it’s about time they got told to go and…… by us the people, they do not own the internet they should never control it!!!!!!

  6. Avatar Jason says:

    Does SMÁÍS represent HULU, Netflix or Apple? No they represent Iceland company’s that profit from being the only ones able to provide the people of Iceland with content. Probably the same companies that are responsible for the lack of these services in that area. In other words they don’t want competition.

    1. Avatar juchmis says:

      Corporatism plain and simple. Monopolize the means of acquiring something and then use abusive legal force to back it up. Classic authoritarianism, Icelandic entertainment industry, classic!

  7. Avatar zenithal says:

    Senate Committee in my country just recently to bypass Australian restrictions and buy overseas.


    Perhaps UK could learn from this (or not)?

    But we Australia is suppose to be following your countries example, including piracy and broadband.

    Geo-blocking is there to price differentiation.

  8. Avatar cyclope says:

    Youtube even have this pathetic geo restriction,A programe that was broadcast on channel 4 several years ago and isnt for sale,(even if it were i certainly wouldn’t buy it) and because my ip is in the uk i can’t watch it, how retarded it that, but if i use a proxy with a us IP i am not blocked

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