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Australian Consumer Group Wants Geo-IP Blocking Banned 233

daria42 writes "Live outside the US? Then you're probably used to being blocked from watching Hulu, frustrated by not being able to buy the eBooks you want from Amazon and most of all, annoyed about paying significantly higher prices than Americans for exactly the same software, games and content online, all based on your IP address. This week Australian consumer group Choice called for an Australian ban on geo-IP-blocking, saying it created significant barriers to the free flow of goods and services. Maybe other countries' consumer groups should follow suit, in the quest for a fair go?"
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Australian Consumer Group Wants Geo-IP Blocking Banned

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  • by Spectre ( 1685 ) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @10:10AM (#40698005)

    The content that's on Hulu is also on TPB. The only thing that I'm blocked from is paying for it.

    Music distributors, are you listening? I want to buy music from an artist I like, but your distribution agreements with iTunes won't let me (legitimately) PURCHASE the music you supposedly want to sell (it's only available in Canada, I live in the USA).

    You are driving your WILLING customers to piracy with your idiotic market segmentation!

  • Easy solution (Score:4, Informative)

    by bleh-of-the-huns ( 17740 ) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @10:10AM (#40698013)

    Go out and purchase a VPS hosted in the data center of your choice in the country of your choice.

    I do this currently, granted it is not to get around GEO IP Blocking, rather for a centrally hosted box I can connect my roaming devices to via VPN and route all my traffic through it.

    I like the BBC, and yes I could go TPB route if I wanted, I can also pay $10 a month for a VPS hosted in a data center in the UK, which would allow me to watch BBC streamed programs without having to wait for them to show up on BBC America. That, and well, who needs ATT/Verizon/whomever snooping on your traffic and profiting from it..

  • by David Chappell ( 671429 ) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @10:15AM (#40698069) Homepage

    It won't help, when the exact thing they are complaining about is what businesses *in other countries* are doing.

    I was wondering about that too. It turns out the summary overemphasizes a few minor points of the article which the poster found interesting while ignoring the main point of the proposal. The meat of the proposal is to prohibit the common practice of charging Australian purchasers of digital goods delivered over the Internet about 50% more for no appearent reason.

    If this were about foreign companies refusing to serve Australian customers, then I agree, there would be little they could do about it. But since these companies are already selling in the Australian market and would like to continue to do so, the Australian goverment has much more leverage.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 19, 2012 @10:50AM (#40698637)

    Without national IP blocking, many companies would be found guilty of violating copyright by exceeding the terms of their licenses.

    Author A produces a work.
    Author A licenses it to Publisher B for production/sale in the US.
    Author A licenses it to Publisher C for production/sale in Asia.
    Author A licenses it to Publisher D for production/sale in Australia.

    If the Publishers B, C & D don't do national IP filtering, and someone from the wrong region buys the copy they are licensed to sell in a *different* region, then they're guilty of copyright violation.

    Forcing Author A to license the work to a single publisher for production/sale world-wide means that only large publishers with divisions and knowledge of laws world-wide could publish works.

    Now, the issue of Australia having higher prices? That comes down to a number of factors, most of which are unknown to anyone but the companies involved. Some of them, though, include high import taxes, special legal requirements which apply *only* within Australia (such as mandatory game ratings which can actually *prevent* a work from being sold, not simply limit the number of outlets willing to stock it), etc.

    I've seen people do the math on some items and discover that when import taxes are taken into account, the 50% price differential is actually as low as 20% or as high as 45%, depending on the particular object being imported. Some of that is, undoubtedly, a bit of 'padding' to account for currency fluctuations, and exchange fees, and some of it is probably an acknowledgement that they've already been pushed into the next 'price bracket', so they may as well round it up to the 'top' of that bracket. (A $19.99 item gets imported, and the additional costs raise the effective price to $21.54AU, they're probably going to decide to price it at $24.99AU.)

    Making national IP blocking illegal won't fix the problem because because of the licensing issues mentioned above. The import issues are going to remain as long as the laws which cause them remain. Price point bracketing can account for a lot of the difference. But sometimes it's quite a bit more, and *that* needs to be looked at.

  • Re:Globalism (Score:4, Informative)

    by C0R1D4N ( 970153 ) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @11:17AM (#40699067)

The following statement is not true. The previous statement is true.