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New Zealand ISP Offers Anti-Geo-Blocking Service
by Karl Bode 02:18PM Monday Jul 07 2014
Australians not only pay significantly more for US content than US customers, a significant amount of content simply isn't available -- with companies like Netflix still unable to secure licensing rights for TV and film from disruption-phobic Australian broadcasters. To get around this "geo-blocking," many Australians subscribe to VPNs as to hide their locations. Now one New Zealand ISP says they're making this easier by, for the first time, offering to geoblock all broadband subscribers by default. Australian consumer advocacy group Choice is applauding the move by New Zealand ISP Slingshot to enable a "global mode" for all subscribers allowing them to access oversease content without having to configure proxies or VPNs.

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Mike
Premium,Mod
join:2000-09-17
Pittsburgh, PA
kudos:1

2 recommendations

Ah yes the VPN game

Where US users get a UK proxy and the UK users get a US proxy to access local content.
tpkatl

join:2009-11-16
Dacula, GA

1 recommendation

This will last about 5 minutes

Very soon now, the content blackmailers (oops, the content providers) will wave some shiny piece of paper at this ISP and tell them that they're breaking 15 types of copyright law and try and close them down.

Two questions in my mind:

1) Will the content hostage-takers let 5 minutes elapse? Or 10?

2) Which one will be first? MPAA? Some movie studio? Or a TV Channel?

This is a dead-on-arrival move. Thanks once again to the content exploiters from screwing everyone else.

Plus One

@50.182.54.x

Blocking Geo-location info have serious quality issues for streaming

Won't blocking geo-location info from the streaming content providers like Netflix result in them taking inefficient routes to the user? Meaning you get to watch a blocked video or pay less for one, but the route may be from the USA to New Zealand(with all the delays and limited bandwidth and horrendous buffering) instead of a route from a New Zealand server.
iansltx

join:2007-02-19
Austin, TX
kudos:2

Re: Blocking Geo-location info have serious quality issues for streaming

Don't think Netflix is available in NZ. Also, if NZ providers of content are having issues, they can just direct-connect with the ISP. CDNs generally don't geolocate ISP customers before providing content anyway.
Chubbysumo

join:2009-12-01
Superior, WI
Reviews:
·Charter
Content providers don't go by Geo location, they go by registered IP address, and its owners location. I am guessing it works about as well as a wet fart, in that it takes very little time for broadcasters and content providers to be forced or to simply block those IPs based on ISP ownership.

maartena
Elmo
Premium
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Orange, CA
kudos:3

Re: Blocking Geo-location info have serious quality issues for streaming

said by Chubbysumo:

Content providers don't go by Geo location, they go by registered IP address, and its owners location. I am guessing it works about as well as a wet fart, in that it takes very little time for broadcasters and content providers to be forced or to simply block those IPs based on ISP ownership.

Read up on how SmartDNS works. I use a SmartDNS provider in the USA, and can access television in pretty much most of Europe, Australia/NZ, Canada and other countries, provided they have an official stream somewhere.
--
"I reject your reality and substitute my own!"
Kearnstd
Space Elf
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Mullica Hill, NJ
kudos:1

Re: This will last about 5 minutes

The thing is geolocation is not at all protected under any copyright laws as far as I know. No law states for example an NZ resident using a VPN to watch content from a US station is illegal since its not piracy.

That said I am sure the content owners will buy laws that make such illegal the next time Congress is fully in session.
--
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tshirt
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Snohomish, WA
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Re: This will last about 5 minutes

said by Kearnstd:

The thing is geolocation is not at all protected under any copyright laws as far as I know.

If the Netflix liecense says US viewers only than that is the terms the copyright protects.
More important the actual content producer could withhold/withdraw ALL Netflix liecenses UNLESS Netflix make all possible effort to block illegal viewing so broad ranges of IP's might endup being blocked.
In the long run tier1's and the tunnel endpoints will remember Netflix and other content providers/packagers business is worth a lot more than that NZ ISP's customers looking to skirt the location restrictions, and the tunnel will cease to exist.

Nv2U

@128.97.245.x

Re: This will last about 5 minutes

Netflix may be violating their content licenses by (unknowingly) streaming content to NZ, and the user may be violating their agreement with Netflix, but the VPN/tunnel provider is not violating any law.

why60loss

join:2012-09-20
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·Time Warner Cable
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said by tshirt:

said by Kearnstd:

The thing is geolocation is not at all protected under any copyright laws as far as I know.

If the Netflix liecense says US viewers only than that is the terms the copyright protects.
More important the actual content producer could withhold/withdraw ALL Netflix liecenses UNLESS Netflix make all possible effort to block illegal viewing so broad ranges of IP's might endup being blocked.
In the long run tier1's and the tunnel endpoints will remember Netflix and other content providers/packagers business is worth a lot more than that NZ ISP's customers looking to skirt the location restrictions, and the tunnel will cease to exist.

But copyright laws aren't the same in every nation and New Zealand could rule that as long as the content is paid for then all is good.

maartena
Elmo
Premium
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said by tshirt:

said by Kearnstd:

The thing is geolocation is not at all protected under any copyright laws as far as I know.

If the Netflix liecense says US viewers only than that is the terms the copyright protects.
More important the actual content producer could withhold/withdraw ALL Netflix liecenses UNLESS Netflix make all possible effort to block illegal viewing so broad ranges of IP's might endup being blocked.
In the long run tier1's and the tunnel endpoints will remember Netflix and other content providers/packagers business is worth a lot more than that NZ ISP's customers looking to skirt the location restrictions, and the tunnel will cease to exist.

The problem with this - or actually not really a problem - is that the system of "SmartDNS" (which is probably what this NZ ISP is using, similar to a service like Overplay.net that everyone can buy, but already built in) also has its legal uses, or at least "grey" areas:

A few examples:

- An American Expat in New Zealand that has an American address and Credit Card, and wants to use his Netflix account for the year he is stationed abroad. He will return to the US after his year of work in NZ.

- A British expat or retiree that is living in Portugal, Spain, or Florida, and uses his UK-based pension money from his UK bank to purchase the BBC TV license, which entitles him to use the BBC Livestreams and iPlayer.

- American Servicemen stationed in Germany, with full-fledged internet access to their military housing near the base, that doesn't allow them to access American TV because it being a German IP address. A geo-unblocking service will help them get their American sports and entertainment. The same goes for South Korea, or other more permanent US bases with full military housing etc.

Geo-unblocking services are most commonly compared to buying a region 2 DVD in Europe, bringing it back to you in the USA, then using a region-free player to play it in Region 1. The movie you bought may never have been released in the United States, yet you legally purchased it. And similarly, people can legally purchase all sorts of online services (thing MLB.TV from abroad to watch your baseball, etc) and watch them from somewhere else.

Bottomline: NO laws are being broken, however TOS may be broken. But that is up to the company that has the TOS to enforce, the law does simply not apply. Until they make a law that is of course.
--
"I reject your reality and substitute my own!"

tshirt
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Re: This will last about 5 minutes

said by maartena:

American Expat, American Servicemen

The liecenses don't say Americans only, they say "50 states + DC" or "within the British isles"... Kiwi's in those areas a free to subscribe.
It is location based because while it may have played elsewhere some seasons may not have been broadcast (OTA, CATV) in those areas.
copyright and the international treaties based on it clearly define that the rights holder does have the right to restrict usage for monetary or other purposes.
start diddling with those treaties and international trade (the lifeblood of most nations) is at risk.
A single or even a million legally purchased DVD's is not comparable, since you can't LEGALLY* make public display, copies, or play them on local- region locked players.

* yes pretty much anything CAN be done illegally pretty much anywhere but gov'ts and legit businesses are sensitive to the legality of treaties and cost of having trade barriers erected.
If NZ lamb, wool or tourism suddenly cost 5% more in the US they would be VERY unhappy.

maartena
Elmo
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Re: This will last about 5 minutes

said by tshirt:

said by maartena:

American Expat, American Servicemen

The liecenses don't say Americans only, they say "50 states + DC" or "within the British isles"... Kiwi's in those areas a free to subscribe.
It is location based because while it may have played elsewhere some seasons may not have been broadcast (OTA, CATV) in those areas.
copyright and the international treaties based on it clearly define that the rights holder does have the right to restrict usage for monetary or other purposes.
start diddling with those treaties and international trade (the lifeblood of most nations) is at risk.
A single or even a million legally purchased DVD's is not comparable, since you can't LEGALLY* make public display, copies, or play them on local- region locked players.

* yes pretty much anything CAN be done illegally pretty much anywhere but gov'ts and legit businesses are sensitive to the legality of treaties and cost of having trade barriers erected.
If NZ lamb, wool or tourism suddenly cost 5% more in the US they would be VERY unhappy.

The difference between geo-blocking and copyright is something that should be carefully understood. Copyright is completely protected by law, which means as a viewer, you have to PAY for the content you view. If you do not pay for the content (e.g. steal, "borrow" from the internet) you are breaking a law in pretty much all western nations for which you can be prosecuted.

Geo-blocking is a system that prevents you from viewing paid content (or free content) from another country. This is something completely different then copyright, and copyright laws. Usually, the studios, as part of negotiating carriage of their media, demand that the content is only viewable in one country. They do this, simply because they can SELL the same content to e.g. 30 European countries and make a buckload of money.

A good example are television series. A producer may sell the series to say, NBC for viewing, and strike a deal with Hulu, and get x million dollars in return, based on the amount of viewers it may have. They can go around and sell that same series to e.g. 20 european countries for an x amount of dollars. Usually, they make a LOT more money from Europe, because they can sell the series to each country individually. I read somewhere that 80% of the income that the series "Friends" generated when it ran for its 10 seasons, wasn't from selling the series to the US, but from selling the series abroad.

When the internet came around, this posed a challenge: It could mean that a television series was available on the internet (and I mean legally, such as Hulu) before they had a chance to sell it to European or other countries, so to combat that they started selling series on almost equal terms, so that European broadcasters could broadcast in the same week. The only delay was adding proper subtitles (quick) or doing their own voiceovers (longer delay) etc, etc.

Geo-blocking is not something that came down from the legal/law side, like copyrights, trademarks, etc, but from the companies that own the media that also wants to sell that media to other countries and other companies that provide netflix-like services in Europe, Australia, NZ and elsewhere.

A person using a technology to circumvent geo-blocking is not necessarily breaking the law, as long as they are paying for the content. So to the letter of the law, it is not something that is illegal. This is why many VPN providers exist, and the reason why they have started creating "SmartDNS" type services so they don't have to use a VPN, but your DNS server simply "lies" to the remote site when they do a reverse lookup against your IP address. I don't claim to know the exact technology behind it, but it works, and it works well.

There is a law going through Australian Parliament right now, effectively OUTLAWING geo-blocking in Australia, but it is expected not to pass. But understandably so, Australia and New Zealand are usually the last to get access to any new media. After the US and Canada, the focus is on Europe, with Australia sort of a forgotten afterthought.... with media being released much later. Netflix has operations all over Europe, even in Singapore, but has neglected AU and NZ. And I understand they over there are getting fed up with not being offered similar services. And since there are international credit cards these days allowing you to pay for an American Netflix account, what this NZ ISP is offering is something that is in high demand over there. If the ISP offers it themselves, they don't have to subscribe to a separate SmartDNS service.

But do understand: They are breaking NO copyright laws by offering this technology. Neither are the people using it to gain access to legally paid for services. Geo-blocking (and/or unblocking) is simply not legally regulated, it doesn't fall under any copyright law.
--
"I reject your reality and substitute my own!"

maartena
Elmo
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Orange, CA
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said by Kearnstd:

The thing is geolocation is not at all protected under any copyright laws as far as I know. No law states for example an NZ resident using a VPN to watch content from a US station is illegal since its not piracy.

That said I am sure the content owners will buy laws that make such illegal the next time Congress is fully in session.

You are not breaking ANY laws indeed. In other words, unlike e.g. torrents etc, there will NEVER be a policeman at your front door arresting you for copyright infringement, etc.

You are however LIKELY breaking the terms of service of the service you are accessing. For instance: If you want to use BBC live streams and BBC iPlayer, you must pay for a UK TV License. There are about a MILLION UK residents abroad that do so (especially retirees in Spain and Portugal, which has sort of become the "Florida of the UK"), but a good deal more (such as myself, to be honest) that do not and access the streams anyways. Can I be prosecuted? Nope.

Technically speaking, it is against the terms of service to take a region 2 DVD (Europe), and play it in Region 1 (USA) and vice versa, but there are "region free" DVD players a plenty. You'd be going against the license of the movie in question, which may not be licensed for the other region, but no one will stop you at the border if you bring in 20 DVD's from another region that are not available in YOUR region.

This is one of those things that may be hard to fight, as there are no legal guidelines for geoblocking. Just as you can't OFFICIALLY use a iPhone bought in the USA in Europe, it is easy to jailbreak and unlock so it can be used with any provider. The license of the iPhone says it may only be used in the USA, and of course warranty will be void if you use it elsewhere, jailbroken or not, but from a legal point of view you are only breaking Apple's TOS, not any national or international laws.
--
"I reject your reality and substitute my own!"
shmerl

join:2013-10-21
They can't. Same way they can't forbid you from going to another country to buy some book there.

Of course they can create new crooked laws. So public should be vigilant and oppose them outright in order to prevent them from passing.

maartena
Elmo
Premium
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Orange, CA
kudos:3
said by tpkatl:

Very soon now, the content blackmailers (oops, the content providers) will wave some shiny piece of paper at this ISP and tell them that they're breaking 15 types of copyright law and try and close them down.

This is a dead-on-arrival move. Thanks once again to the content exploiters from screwing everyone else.

I have been using something called Overplay SmartDNS for over a year now. Essentially, it is a $5 a month service that adds to your ISP connection exactly what this Kiwi ISP is offering.

I have put the Overplay SmartDNS servers in my router to be used as the default DNS servers, and without needing a VPN, and with the full ability of my 100 Mbps connection, I can watch television from around the world.

Among others, I watch CBC (including the World Cup live streams, and Hockey Night in Canada during the winter, and I watched the Olympics using CBC), all BBC/ITV channels (in near-HD quality), the Dutch public broadcast live streams (I speak Dutch, and they also broadcast World Cup, Olympics, Tour de France, and other international sports), live streams from Australia, Ireland, New Zealand from their official websites, plus all the "catch up" services from all listed networks above, such as CBC player, BBC iPlayer, Dutch "uitzendinggemist", and the on-demand services from other channels.

And it works perfect. Additionally, the site allows you to set your "Netflix Locale". You use their iPhone app (or Android), pick the country you want to watch the Netflix library from, and just refresh/restart Netflix on your device. Why? Well, for instance, the Canadian and UK Netflix have things that the US one never gets, and in some cases movies/tv series are released sooner.

Also: this service works to access Netflix, Hulu, and a variety of US based services from abroad.

The best part about SmartDNS services is that you don't have to use a VPN (although you still can if you want), and thus use the full bandwidth your ISP gives you.
--
"I reject your reality and substitute my own!"

Flyonthewall

@206.248.154.x

Copyright is per country, and it's bought, not given

If the copyright isn't paid for in the country the purchase takes place in, then it doesn't exist. Which is why normally you can't stream content from the US to other places because they didn't pay to protect their copyright there. They just expect it to be enforced without any legal brickwork done on their part, and if not, they block it out (or send copyright trolls to try and extort you). You can buy movie discs and CD's, books, and other stuff, but that's real product, it exists, and the price reflects the copyright attached to it.

But digital copyright is a new horse and the pasture fence still has huge holes in it, some by design, others by oversight. You can't make a law in the US and expect the whole world will follow it, that's crazy talk. As Americans are so fond of saying, nothing is free. You have to PAY to have commercial rights. A lot of US commercial interests today were grown on 'borrowed' ideas that were already patented in other countries. They are definitely not strangers to this concept.

WanderingR

@63.237.20.x

Not first NZ company to try

This one lasted all of a week.
Perhaps some laws changed?
»www.itnews.com.au/News/300423,ki···fyx.aspx
raytaylor

join:2009-07-28
kudos:1

Re: Not first NZ company to try

They implemented that process during a buyout / takeover by another isp that happened to also be owned by a TV network.
The TV network parent company decided they would inform their new aquisition they were to stop offering the service.

cableties
Premium
join:2005-01-27

Censors won't allow it...

..my kiwi friend knows too well that region-blocking on consoles is alive and well.
With Xbox titles, any zombie games have green blood. Or lesser violence.

When we sent him a care package from the states, one of my friends sent him assorted xbox titles that he didn't have. And couldn't play due to region restrictions.

So my friend sent him a US xbox
--
Splat
raytaylor

join:2009-07-28
kudos:1

In NZ

I live in NZ
Its not illegal, and is not a copyright issue.

1) The terms of service is between the content provider and the consumer, not the ISP. Eg. Between Netflix and John Doe

2) The ISP is simply removing the ability to determine the exact location of John Doe. Not a copyright issue, and there is no law that the ISP has to cooperate with any geolocation service.

3) John Doe wins because the ISP isnt "going the extra mile" by not doing something they are not forced to.
John Doe can now subscribe (and pay for) a netflix subscription - its up to netflix to work out that he is not in the USA and if they cant do that, then they would need to sue John Doe. Its a catch 22 position.