Yesterday, while sitting in Toronto airport I had an hour or so to kill so I thought I’d take advantage of my new ear buds (Ann, they’re pink!) and plug into my netbook to watch some video on demand.Â To my surprise – although I shouldn’t have been surprised being an IP prof – I discovered that none of my usual video on demand services (Netflix, Amazon) will work when I’m outside the U.S. because of agreements with the content owners.Â This seemed a little weird.Â If I had bought the DVDs in the U.S. and carried them with me to Canada to play on my laptop, they would have worked.Â But using the same computer and service provider, I was unable to access any of the material outside the borders.Â I understand that the content owners fear is that people will share their U.S. passwords outside the U.S. so that multiple people can access works at different places, but shouldn’t this be more a question of how MANY people can access a given work at the same time from the same password, rather than of WHERE one person tries to access the work?
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I don’t think it’s just fear of redistribution, I suspect it’s at least partly due to the fact that there is a long history of agreements in place out there that restrict rights by territory, which was fine to do when the business was based almost entirely on physical media or terrestrial broadcasting. That’s probably not true for all content but it would be administratively simpler just to restrict Netflix et al. distribution to the U.S. than figure it out work by work.
Also possible that Netflix, etc doesn’t have the rights to broadcast in non-U.S. countries, and that those rights have been licensed to different companies.
Hopefully this will change in the future (with more things just being licensed globally). In the meantime, it’s called: use a proxy server or VPN in the U.S. to get around these restrictions. Unfortunately, they aren’t always fast enough.