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#30296 - 10/05/09 12:04 PM Geographically-Restricted Sites--A Workaround
Nemesis Offline
senior member


Registered: 09/01/07
Posts: 2175
Loc: US
For those who have trouble viewing content that's restricted to the US (like or Canadian and UK members), on sites like Hulu and Pandora.

A large number of web services are geographically restricted, such as Hulu, Pandora and Spotify. The reasons are usually to do with content licensing restrictions, or because US visitors (or visitors from other advanced economies) are of a higher value from a monetary perspective. A web application can only guess at the location of a visitor based on an IP address and other information, such as browser language and regional settings.

IP addresses are mapped to countries (and in some instances, further to states and cities) using large commercial datasets such as GeoIP from Maxmind, which is a 'best guess' database based on data it has collected (how, I would rather not know). The system is accurate enough to enable services to block on a country level, but often fail at a more local level.

But the nature of the web means that geographically restricting web services is next to impossible, because those who are technically adept have known how to find and use proxy servers (both open and private) and VPN services to masquerade as being from another country.

The demand for such services has become so popular that more apps are being released that make this process almost as easy as installing any other application one-click VPN/Proxy install and then pick a country you want to be surfing from (default USA). Even better, there are now VPN solutions available for free some of which are outright free, others which are ad supported.

If you find yourself outside of the USA and wanting to watch Hulu, outside of the UK and wanting to checkout the BBC, or wanting to rig a web poll, here are some tips:

Proxy Servers

Easy to find, easy to setup. Some sites have become smart enough now to check if the IP address you are coming in from is an open proxy server and will attempt to deny it but this is most often the easiest solution. The key is to find an open proxy server that everybody else, or even worse, Eastern European crime syndicates, are also not using.

The best source if you are a blogger is to check your spam comments. Most of those IP addresses will not only be open proxy servers (you just have to work out the port or if you host your own blog, start logging the port), but will be virgin proxy servers.

Otherwise there are a ton of lists available online, often updated each minute, as well as services where you can test your proxy.

Foxy Proxy is a Firefox plugin that allows you to easily switch between proxy servers (many Chinese web users are very familiar with having to juggle proxy servers and use such plugins, or browsers that have similar features built-in)

VPN Servers

Similar to a proxy, except that a VPN is an encrypted link to a server that will route all of your network traffic (your computer, in effect, becomes part of the network).

FreeVPN thefreevpn.com A completely free VPN client and service for Windows machines. No ads, and a fast service. Not sure what the business model is, which is why I wouldn't trust it with any personal or private information and restrict it to just movie watching or poll rigging. Best free VPN service and super easy to install (see review here)

Feeedur - http://www.freedur.com A commercial VPN/anonymizing service that works well.

HotSpotShield hotspotshield.com . Another free VPN service, but forces you to click on an ad. Working with Hulu again.

UltraVPN http://www.ultravpn.fr cross platform (OS X support). Both free and anonymous.

The Web Is Flat

Using a proxy or a VPN to bypass geographic restrictions or to preserve anonymity online has been known and used by more advanced users for years. More modern services and tools are making it easier for the average internet user to take advantage of the same techniques.

There are entire business models that depend on geographic targeting, so there is a constant cat-and-mouse game between providers of these services and those seeking to bypass the set restrictions. Those who are seeking to access content are winning though, and they will continue to win, as the very nature of the Internet and web make it near impossible to detect where somebody actually is if they refuse to let you know.
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#30297 - 10/05/09 04:15 PM Re: Geographically-Restricted Sites--A Workaround [Re: Nemesis]
DistroyA Offline
member


Registered: 02/04/08
Posts: 478
Loc: Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, UK
This is a great article that you've posted this info. I may end up using the latter option that was mentioned.

But it doesn't stop me from being pissed off about the whole geographic restriction thing in the first place. Why do they need to single out those of different countries? I'm guessing it's to do with "terrorism".

Whatever the reason for these restrictions, I still think it's a load of bullshit. It's completely unnecessary to do it in the first place.
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"A man chooses, a slave obeys." - Andrew Ryan of Ryan Industries (Bioshock)

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#30337 - 10/07/09 07:22 AM Re: Geographically-Restricted Sites--A Workaround [Re: DistroyA]
Nemesis Offline
senior member


Registered: 09/01/07
Posts: 2175
Loc: US
I think most of it has to do with marketing. Since the restricted sites are ones that have "limited advertising" (in order to make the videos we're watching free), it would make sense from their perspective, how corporations wouldn't want someone in the UK to see a product (possibly better and cheaper) being sold in the US.

They adhere to the strategy of "Don't cross the streams!" At least in the way it pertains to marketing their products.
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#34847 - 01/30/10 11:27 PM Re: Geographically-Restricted Sites--A Workaround [Re: Nemesis]
Meq Offline
Banned
active member


Registered: 08/28/07
Posts: 861
For those outside the USA who wish to access videos on YouTube (or similar) which are blocked in your country but available in the USA (such as this video which is currently blocked in the UK), one method which I can confirm currently works (it's been on and off) is to visit keepvid.com.

Simply copy the link address (i.e. right click on the first link above and select that option), paste the video link/url into the box on the KeepVid site and click 'DOWNLOAD', and you'll be able to watch and download region blocked content in a variety of video qualities. With the right plugins you'll be able to watch them right from your browser from KeepVid by clicking on the download links you get.

Right-click on the download links for the option to save the file (e.g. 'Save link as'), choose your folder (e.g. My Documents or My Videos) and give a suitable name, and add the appropriate extension to the name (.flv or .mp4).

This method does NOT work for videos blocked in the United States, such as UK-only BBC content. You'll need another workaround for that ;\)

Another method to download videos from YouTube is the DownloadHelper plugin for Mozilla Firefox, however this method only works for videos available in your geographical region (which is good if the video in question happens to be available in your country but blocked in the States - then you can email/bittorrent it to friends in the USA).

Those in the States should find both methods work more or less the same however for downloading videos.

I recommend VLC for playing downloaded videos. (Otherwise, you may need to find some codecs.)

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#36362 - 03/13/10 11:53 PM Re: Geographically-Restricted Sites--A Workaround [Re: Meq]
Ruwan Offline
stranger


Registered: 03/10/10
Posts: 8
Loc: Bahrain
I encountered a similar problem when I first came to Bahrain. In Bahrain all pornographic sites are banned.
The only proxy I could find was Hot spot shield, its easy to set up and works by giving you a IP address in the US.
if you cant access the hot spot shield web site, try googleing "hot spot shield download" worked out well for me.
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#39811 - 07/02/10 01:39 PM Re: Geographically-Restricted Sites--A Workaround [Re: Ruwan]
NeoZombie Offline
pledge


Registered: 06/21/10
Posts: 60
Loc: Minnesota, USA
Thank You I was wondering about some of the sites I can't access. Very informative, keep'em Coming?

Also there is some strange shit going on in the USA. I could care less because it's still the greatest show on earth. You know mankind's collapse? And please tell me I am not the only one who is enjoying the ciaos?

LOL, I know I'm not.
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#43248 - 09/27/10 03:25 PM Re: Geographically-Restricted Sites--A Workaround [Re: NeoZombie]
Mr_Lament Offline
stranger


Registered: 08/31/10
Posts: 22
Loc: England.
You'd have thought with the knowledge of proxy servers most of them just wouldn't bother with country restrictions.
More traffic equals more money surely?

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#44234 - 11/19/10 08:24 AM Re: Geographically-Restricted Sites--A Workaround [Re: Mr_Lament]
Dutch Satanist Offline
pledge


Registered: 10/19/10
Posts: 69
Loc: Delft, The Netherlands
Another option would be Tor (available here: http://tor.eff.org/ ). It runs on Mac, Windows and Unix-workalikes.

Pros:
- You can appear to be from anywhere on the damn planet.
- It's possible to change locations/identities easily.
- It's not just browsers it can do, since it implements a SOCKS proxy.
- It's open source.

Cons:
- It can be slow. Latencies can be quite high as well.

Yeah, only one caveat, but an important one if you are trying to stream video.
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