The online media business. All but global

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From any computer connected to the Internet I have access to a vast amount of information about almost anything. That is part of what makes me feel a proud global citizen, connected to the world and connected to history…. This is true unless you talk bout certain archaic markets or industries which are unable or unwilling to adapt. We could talk about e.g. Science articles, national statistics or the media industry. This rant belongs to the latter, and was inspired by my recent trip to Germany.

I live in the USA, but I occasionally I travel to Spain, Germany and other countries. In all places I can use Internet almost exactly the same way. I open the laptop almost anywhere and the global Internet awaits: Wikipedia, “Gmail” (btw legally named “Google Mail” in Germany), Dropbox, Google Docs, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit … These are the webpages I tend to use the most, and without problems.

Then, there is the media Industry. I pay for Netflix in the USA, but I cannot use it overseas. I love Pandora, but outside USA I can never use it. Same with Hulu. Same with some videos in Youtube. Same with buying some Kindle books. In Spain I use Spotify, but it doesn´t work in the USA (actually they just started, but you need separate accounts). Some places don´t even allow buying Amazon or iTunes MP3 songs. I still get their emails with offers as usual, but I can´t access the content when I click on their ads (big communications fail)

[caption id=”attachment_1949” align=”aligncenter” width=”640” caption=”Pandora geographical censorship.”][/caption]

Is it really the audiovisual media so different? None of the media I consume is by ilegal means. I pay monthly to Netflix, I hear the ads on Pandora, I share my bandwidth on Spotify, I buy songs on Apple and Amazon. Why can´t I use it? There is no technical problem, there is not even a loss of resources (like restricting physical exports of physical goods when scarcity appears.) Actually, it is the opposite. My media is ready to come from the server, but it is blocked on the way to my computer, by a hand-written purposely restrictive line of code. Instead of streaming a movie within a subscription you already paid, you get an error message. Most of the times blaming copyright laws and authorship right.

[caption id=”attachment_1948” align=”aligncenter” width=”562” caption=”Hulu geographical censorship.”][/caption]

I could easily set-up a software to circumvent all these software limitations:

-Say using HotSpot Shield , or using my computer at home as a relay.

-Say using offline media downloaded via P2P. You can circumvent possible legal problems using an encrypted or anonymous tool or using a proxy computer in e.g. Spain, where P2P is legal).

-Channeling my whole traffic though my home computer in the USA or elsewhere. (VPN tunnel).

[caption id=”attachment_1950” align=”aligncenter” width=”577” caption=”Netflix geographical censorship.”][/caption]

Why can´t we let innovation focus on building good things instead of promoting the culture of the dark side (i.e. "They don’t want our money, but get angry when we resort to piracy")?

[caption id=”attachment_1959” align=”aligncenter” width=”448” caption=”Youtube geographical censorship.”][/caption]

We could enter the many argumentations in favor or against. Whatever it is, I feel it is wrong to restrict information in such an artificial way. It is not about not having access and trying to fix the situation, it is about blocking access that otherwise would be readily available.

[caption id=”attachment_1960” align=”aligncenter” width=”640” caption=”Amazon geographical censorship.”][/caption]

This is how the present could look like, and in many place it does already.

  1. I am looking for videos of skydiving, as I´m going to jump again soon. I get to this amazing video. [youtube=]
  2. I love the song that the movie editor chose to use. He might have paid for the song, or not. Either way, I could see the video, and I got to know the music.
  3. I click the "buy song" button. Done. Here you have now a purchase of a song that I wasn´t even looking for 20 minutes ago. Cost in time? 5 seconds. Cost in money? 1$.  I sent it to a friend, he liked it, and bought the whole album. There you have 3 sells without advertising costs, fliers, concerts, ... Now think that the video has 4 million views, only on this file version.
  4. If I were in Germany, no video would have been played, no visual enjoyment of the skydive AND not purchase. The chain is broken, but according to Germany this is how you "protect" the industry.

I am certainly aware that I could scrape the song from the Video. But why? I like the expedite process, and by buying it, I am helping the group I like, and the media industry that is fighting hard to overcome the traditional model.

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