My IE is in the USA, my Firefox is in the UK

I love gardening.  I love to be inspired by gardening shows.  And some of the ones I want to see and watch are on the BBC channel and online.  Except there’s one catch. I don’t live in the UK.  And therein lies the problem.  I can watch BBC America for my TopGear fix, but I can’t watch Gardeners’ World, Beechgrove Garden or any other BBC based TV show online.  I wouldn’t even mind it if I watched the commercials, but because of UK rights I’m blocked.

I had to admit this but I’ve found a slighly …well… not exactly feeling right …way to get around this.  By using a proxy service that tricks the BBC site into thinking I’m from the UK.  Inside of Firefox I put in the proxy settings of the UK proxy site, put in my authentication (it’s a paid proxy not a free one) and I then trick the UK web site into thinking I’m coming in from the UK.  I can’t download to a media device for later viewing as I can’t control the computer’s IP address, but at least for streaming of the show, I can get my British gardening fix here on a computer in California.

I can listen to BBC gardening podcasts all I want, but video, however, I have to lie.

And this is where the reality of the Internet – that we can be anywhere – meets the reality of the digital rights of the era that haven’t caught up to reality.  And quite honestly I think the legal and digital rights of content needs to catch up with how people are watching and using content.  And we’re a huge, huge way away from getting all of these digital rights issues ironed out.

So I’m watching Monty Don…and feeling a little bad about lying about it and hope that someday, I don’t have to lie about this to get my gardening fix.

3 Thoughts on “My IE is in the USA, my Firefox is in the UK

  1. Joe Raby on April 2, 2012 at 6:38 am said:

    Sometimes media is made just for a certain market, either because it is designed to target that market with a message (sometimes state-run, sometimes not), or just because the message may be considered taboo or even illegal in other markets. More often than not, it’s usually just content publishers, not the creators that don’t reserve rights to distribute outside of their home market, and much of this has to do with one big evil in the world: advertising. When a publisher wants to present media to an international audience, they often go to a local publisher because international rights aren’t exactly that easy to proclaim. However, almost all regional publishers also demand exclusive distribution rights within their market. The reason is so that they can also have a monopoly on ad revenue within their home market. My best example of this is that when I watch TV on my Canadian satellite, and tune in to a US channel, if there is a Canadian channel simulcasting it, the satellite provider shows me the Canadian feed, regardless of being actually tuned into the US channel. The reason: distribution rights related to advertising. I have other reasons for hating this (namely that Canadian channels recompress the video stream too much when they put their logo on the feed – often using an opaque one just to overlay on top of the US channel logo – and often the audio gets downixed from 5.1 to stereo), but this is why Canada never sees SuperBowl commercials from the US. It’s a problem, and it’s all about greedy advertisers.

  2. Graeme Carstairs on April 2, 2012 at 8:25 am said:

    The Global iPlayer is available in Europe and Canada on IOS devices, and the keep promising the US soon.
    It has limited free ad suported content bvut offers a subscription service to cover a large amount of BBC produced content..

    Im not usre when it will be available in the US though.


  3. Joe Raby on April 2, 2012 at 11:22 am said:

    See, THAT’s the problem with international delivery. I already pay for BBC Canada on satellite, but it only carries a small amount of real BBC programming. The iPlayer carries even less. Current seasons of Doctor Who aren’t on it, among other things. In Canada, the channel “Space” carries Doctor Who. But because Space has exclusive rights in Canada (they essentially “bought” it, in that they are the owners of that programming in Canada), nobody else can rebroadcast it unless they compensate the Space for lost ad revenue. Not only that, but iTunes sub-licensed it from Space to have EXCLUSIVE online broadcast rights in Canada. Nobody else can stream it – not even the BBC, because they gave up those rights to Space, and in turn, iTunes. This is what happens when a publisher (BBC) wants to distribute content internationally where they don’t already have broadcast rights due to local laws. In Canada, for instance, the Canadian Radio and Telecommunication Commission (CRTC for short) requires that Canadian TV broadcasters and providors (satellite and cable operators) show something like 40% Canadian content. Most countries have similar laws regarding local content, ratings, etc. It’s easier for a content publisher to just go to an already-present distributor in a foreign market then to just open up a new presence there. Due to issues like local content allotment rates, often a content publisher will divide up their content between multiple distributors in a region. The up-side is they get to sell more of their programming internationally. The down-side is that every distributor wants exclusive rights within their market, so competing distributors must sub-license the catalogue from multiple 3rd-party sources. This is what makes services like Hulu and Netflix very difficult for international markets.

    …not to mention that the Canadian market is owned by the same companies that also own the mobile market, so watching TV on a device like an iPad is often only available if have a 3G iPad, and then only if you subscribe to the mobile op that owns whatever TV channels you’re trying to watch….and you still have to watch your 3G usage because most Canadian 3G providers only allow for up to 2GB of bandwidth, and that’s for around $35. Overage charges are insane, so using something like Netflix on 3G is completely out of the question unless you win the equivalent of the Superball lottery or something (I hope that US reference makes sense).

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