Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Why Geoblocking Does Not Make Sense



The advances in Information Technology over the last twenty years have profoundly changed our world and the way we interact with it. When it comes to media consumption, it is an understatement to say that we have witnessed a paradigm shift. Napster, although an illegal service, transformed the way most people use music forever. As a matter of fact, going into a physical store to buy a CD seems so old-fashioned that it is obvious this practice is on the brink of extinction as it is so much easier to go online and purchase music on iTunes instead of buying its physical counterpart. However, the last few years have seen the development of an even more modern way to be get access to music: renting it. New services such as Pandora, Spotify or Deezer will allow you to stream and even store locally all-you-can-listen music for a monthly fee. It is no coincidence that iTunes and these rental services are appealing to customers in the sense that they are allowing them to legally do what they've been doing illegally for more than ten years now. I'm still completely taken aback by the way the music industry took so long to understand this and I'm even more surprised that Hollywood and the TV networks have failed to adapt too.

It, hopefully, is possible to rent movies online and watch tv shows on TV network websites now. But, one thing that does not make sense to me is that all content is geoblocked. Indeed, American TV networks won't let you stream TV shows if you're not physically located within the US. How can that be? When the Internet is a global technology whose most important impact and underlying propriety is to abolish physical constraints, how can it be used to geoblock users? I wouldn't mind paying to have access to American media online. Actually, if the TV network or Hollywood executives were smart, they would geolocate advertising in order to customize commercials to the physical location of the viewers. But Frankly, does it make sense to block people and force some of them to illegal download content when they would be more than happy to legally access and even pay for it?

So, if any influent TV or Hollywood mogul is reading this, please stop Geoblocking us. If there were such a thing as a World Constitution, this practice would surely be regarded as unconstitutional. And if I were to paraphrase JFK, I would say "We Are All American" since we all watch Hollywood movies and American TV shows throughout the world and get an idea of what it is and means to be American. So, please give us access to the content we want. This way, citizens of all countries will share more and have more in common. And who knows, this could lead us to better understanding each other and feel less inclined to go to war.

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