How to Access Region-Locked Content From Anywhere: Proxy, VPN, DNS Redirections Tricks and More

By on September 4, 2012, 3:34 AM

Online services like Netflix, Hulu, Pandora, Spotify and many others have changed the way millions of people access media. They've brought upon an era of instant, on-demand digital media consumption in a world where linear programming, bundled content, and physical formats no longer fit many people's lives.

Unfortunately this is a revolution not everyone can partake in (not yet or not as easily, at least) as such services employ region locks to limit access from specific countries. More often than not it's not actually their fault, they just need to abide by archaic license agreements enforced by the actual content owners.

In this article we’ll offer you three alternatives to get around these restrictions. Each has their advantages and disadvantages and whichever route you choose will depend on the services you need to access as well as the devices you need to access them from -- not to mention whether you are willing to pay or not.

Read the complete guide.




User Comments: 20

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psycros psycros said:

Very nice article..we could stand more end-user help pieces such as this. Also, I thought I'd mention TOR routers, since they are kind of like proxies.

Ithryl said:

Nice article indeed. Using U.S. proxy myself to be able to use things like Pandora. Gonna give a try to the credit card service - always wanted to try prepaid Hulu. The 'similar' services where I live aren't worth paying for.

ess333 said:

Love this article .. helped a lot

Darkshadoe Darkshadoe said:

Isn't this just another form of piracy? Region blocks are there for a reason. Techspot is showing how to get around and avoid those blocks. Does this mean Techspot is facilitating a crime? It is stealing right? People are stealing streams of video now. Your sense of entitlement has made you think that it is ok to steal. You wouldn't go into a grocery store and steal milk would you?

Staff
Jos Jos said:

Isn't this just another form of piracy? Region blocks are there for a reason.

Region blocks are there because licensing terms need to be worked out for each country/region, not as a measure against piracy. Using a VPN, proxy or DNS redirection service is not illegal. Also, none of what we are covering will enable free access to paid content, as it's clearly stated in the article. If you do want to access paid content we're presenting a possible solution for that as well (one where content owners get paid).

Bottom line is, there are people that actually want to pay for access to content, but can't due to geographic restrictions. Instead of illegally downloading and redistributing content through P2P (which is actually what they charge you if taken to court), users can bypass geographic restrictions with one of these services. At worst it would be a violation of the Terms of Service and your account could be terminated.

1 person liked this | Red87 said:

Isn't this just another form of piracy? Region blocks are there for a reason. Techspot is showing how to get around and avoid those blocks. Does this mean Techspot is facilitating a crime? It is stealing right? People are stealing streams of video now. Your sense of entitlement has made you think that it is ok to steal. You wouldn't go into a grocery store and steal milk would you?

Not exactly. I'm a US Citizen, and I have a US address where I currently live, but I live physically in Germany (APO Address). I can subscribe to all these services since all my cards as well as my home address are US based but without using a VPN/Proxy/Workaround I get geoblocked from Germany as I still have a German IP address.

I fail to see how this could be stealing.

Guest said:

Thanks Red87. This is exactly my sentiment as well. Piracy is a legally constructed concept. By the same token, one can claim I'm pirating a book if I lend my Harry Potter to my friend because my friend didn't pay for it right?

The bottom line is, most people agree that downloading video without paying is morally dicey and could be considered as piracy. However, claiming getting around geoblock is stealing is stretching the fact very far - almost to where Curiosity is.

Darkshadoe Darkshadoe said:

Seriously, I just wanted to point out the absurdity of this whole piracy debate.

Jos and Red, you are right. Media companies make up stupid licensing arrangements that only hurt themselves. People will gladly give them money for their content if they can make it convenient for the customer for a fair price.

@Guest. I agree with you also. You bought the Harry Potter book, you should be able to use it how you see fit.

These companies bring these result on themselves yet have the nerve to whine and cry when a customer does not use the product as the company wants. It is rather ridiculous.

Guest said:

Bottom line, the point is there are people that actually want to pay for access to content, but can't due to geographic restrictions. Instead of illegally downloading and redistributing content through P2P (which is actually what they charge you if taken to court), users can bypass geographic restrictions with one of these services. At best it would be a violation of the Terms of Service and your account could be terminated.

At best or at worst?! Slightly concerned on your stance if at best one's account is terminated.

Staff
Jos Jos said:

At worst, I meant at worst

Guest said:

These laws on content restrictions are pretty dumb, even more so for TV shows.

I fully understand the need to restrict content to create a market place for the value people in that region can afford, but when they restrict things such as TV shows for the sole reason to delay it being shown in other countries its retarded.

Here in the UK we get some American shows, such as CSI and The Big Bang Theory. However, they are sometimes several seasons behind what the US are being shown. The UK promotes it as 'all new' (more like never seen on UK TV). You like the shows facebook page, get notified of the latest show, click to see the preview trailer and .. yeah, the show is actually several years a head of whats on the TV AND we've been blocked from viewing it on the official website... so not only are they blocking via regional for the actual shows, but for fans, they're blocking being part of being fan.

Without a way to even pay to watch the content, or interact properly with the company behind the shows what else are fans expected to do? sit and wait for 3 years until a TV channel is allowed to buy the rights to broadcast it in the UK, all the while still being blocked from visiting the official website. To be honest, they've done well with the big bang theory its only a few weeks old by the time we see it in the UK, but we're still blocked from watching anything on the website, even old content.

MilwaukeeMike said:

Seems kinda shady to me. I have netflix and I've accessed my account from Canada and had different shows available. Shows that I'd like to watch at home, but I can't. My $8/month goes to pay for the American shows, not the American and the Canadian shows. So if I watch Canadian shows in America while only paying $8 isn't that taking something I haven't paid for?

Guys like Red87 sound like a pretty valid exception, but I don't see how you can pay for something from a country where you're not supposed to access it.

And Jos... your explaination of why this isn't piracy might hold more water if your profile pic wasn't a dude (you?) in dark sunglasses and a mugger's cap.

mailpup mailpup said:

And Jos... your explaination of why this isn't piracy might hold more water if your profile pic wasn't a dude (you?) in dark sunglasses and a mugger's cap.
What should he be wearing at a ski area?

Staff
Jos Jos said:

Seems kinda shady to me. I have netflix and I've accessed my account from Canada and had different shows available. Shows that I'd like to watch at home, but I can't. My $8/month goes to pay for the American shows, not the American and the Canadian shows. So if I watch Canadian shows in America while only paying $8 isn't that taking something I haven't paid for?

I guess there are situations were you could get more than you pay for. Then again, it's not like they sell access to US and Canadian shows in separate packages. You get the shows that were licensed for your country, but the fact that you were able to login with your same US credentials from Canada and access Canadian shows, to me is kinda telling. They could just block you and display a message saying the account is only valid in the US. I don't see a problem in giving you access as long as you are paying a subscription. They just can't stream certain shows in markets they haven't been licensed.

It may be sort of a grey area at the moment but it's definitely not the same as just torrenting shows for free and seeding them for others to download.

Guys like Red87 sound like a pretty valid exception, but I don't see how you can pay for something from a country where you're not supposed to access it.

I'm in a somewhat similar situation. I lived in France for a year between 2010 and 2011. While there I opened a free Spotify account. Since I still have my French bank account and debit card, now that I'm back in Ecuador I'm able to subscribe to their premium plan -- I just buy one month at a time whenever I want to instead of maintaining an ongoing subscription.

I don't even need to use a VPN because their premium plans include unlimited travel. I certainly don't feel like I'm doing anything illegal, since I'm paying the same 9.99 Euros other subscribers pay.

And Jos... your explaination of why this isn't piracy might hold more water if your profile pic wasn't a dude (you?) in dark sunglasses and a mugger's cap.

LOL

Red87 said:

Another option (Albeit a bit more complex) that I've used to get my consoles and AppleTV to pass through region lock without using a customized router is to use another device that CAN connect to the VPN as a gateway - with a bit of terminal work on an old Mac I was able to get it to forward all received packets out to the router - I just had to connect the Xbox and AppleTV to the network and set them to use the Mac's IP address as gateway instead of the router, then connect the Mac to the VPN in whatever country you desire, and your Netflix and Hulu apps will work again.

The DNS services described in the article sound like the pretty much will achieve the same effect for roughly the same price, but then again as stated they are limited to certain services and this solution doesn't have that restriction. Googling 'Using and Sharing a VPN Connection' should bring up the solution I used for Mac, and I'd assume it wouldn't require much legwork to do on a PC; there's probably software to do so.

Guest said:

Whoa, steady on there. Theft? I think you might be over reacting just a tad. I can't watch certain music videos on YouTube because they aren't allowed in my region. So I use an IP addrress cloaker to see the content that should ideally be available to all - how is it that theft? Who am I stealing from and what is their loss exactly?

avoidz avoidz said:

There's a reason DVD players come with that small piece of paper in the box with the region-free unlock code. The whole region-locking thing is absurd. Especially these days.

otester said:

Lot easier to just download what you want off torrent...

Guest said:

Darkshadoe -- I think you misunderstand the whole concept. I already pay several paid viewing sites, but I am not able to use them abroad. I pay -- they get the money -- I get nothing. Now, who is stealing?

Besides, I would never try to stream something I haven't paid for. I completely understand and agree with their need to get paid for content (have you ever tried to create a tv show or movie?) They should get paid, but if I pay, I should be able to use. Otherwise, it's like going into a grocery store, paying for the milk, but leaving with nothing.

otester said:

Darkshadoe -- I think you misunderstand the whole concept. I already pay several paid viewing sites, but I am not able to use them abroad. I pay -- they get the money -- I get nothing. Now, who is stealing?

Besides, I would never try to stream something I haven't paid for. I completely understand and agree with their need to get paid for content (have you ever tried to create a tv show or movie?) They should get paid, but if I pay, I should be able to use. Otherwise, it's like going into a grocery store, paying for the milk, but leaving with nothing.

I agree that people should get paid, but some people should not, namely those who try to censor the internet/those that don't provide the product the way I want to receive it/those that don't provide value for money.

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