We've all been in a situation where we couldn’t access online content for some reason. It’s a very irritating experience, but publishers and copyright holders have their own reasons to restrict user access to certain content. In this article, we'll see why content owners resort to this measures — and we'll also learn how you can bypass these restrictions.
Reason #1: Monetization
Online media has a hard time making money: Publishers only have few sources of income — namely, they can sell sponsored articles and banner brand advertisements, enable context ads, and offer paid subscriptions for readers who want to access every single piece of content this platform publishes.
You'll meet sponsored posts quite often, and if executed correctly, these articles are even interesting and useful. But there is a significant issue — usually, an online magazine would sell just a few of such ads per month because it’s a rather expensive service, and brands are not very eager to buy sponsored articles. Therefore, this source won’t bring enough money to cover all expenses and make profit.
Context ads also don’t bring a lot of revenue, and they’re rather irritating. Publishers usually tend to avoid placing them on the website to avoid putting readers off. Also, most visitors have some adblock extension installed anyway: Therefore, online media simply can’t rely on context ads to make money.
A viable monetization option is offering a paid monthly or yearly subscription. While it might seem like something unnatural to us as we’re got really used to free content, this concept is not new: Remember how we or our parents used to get subscriptions for newspapers the mailman was bringing each morning? And we didn’t hesitate to buy that new cool magazine issue. So, paying for the content in an online magazine or newspaper is quite the same thing.
If you stumble upon a media website that offers subscriptions, you’ll find quite a lot of restricted content there. The most interesting and useful articles will be inaccessible for those who don’t have a subscription, and the only way to bypass this restriction is to pay for the content. It’s rather fair, don’t you think?
Reason #2: Age
Some content is not suitable for underage users, so publishers hide it from this viewer group and ask them to verify their birth date. Of course, it’s hard to control if the given user is lying about their age. That’s why this restriction is easy to bypass — one can simply enter the age that will allow them to view the content.
However, you should remember that if you do that, and the content you see harms you in some way, the publisher is not responsible for that. You wouldn’t be able to get any legal compensation.
Reason #3: Location restriction
There are many reasons why publishers won’t allow visitors from certain countries to view the content. In most cases, geo-blocks are implemented because of legal agreements or to increase revenue. Let’s see the reasons in detail.
We all use streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and so on. And it’s not news for us that these platforms display different catalogues for users from different locations. That’s why that show you started watching when you were on a vacation in another country might become inaccessible once you come back home.
This happens because streaming services have the right to only stream the content — they don’t own it. Therefore, if the owner of a series decided for any reason that they don’t want viewers from, say, France to see this show, streaming services have no right to provide French users access to this content.
Local streaming services need to obtain license for a certain show or movie to have the right to stream it in a certain country. Therefore, if this platform hasn't purchased such a license for a certain series or film, it won’t have this title in its library.
This is a popular practice in the US. Usually, it’s applied to sports events — in most cases, they’re either exclusively owned by a broadcasting network or they’re only broadcasted locally. Another reason for a blackout is that the event is somewhat questionable, content rating-wise. Since different states in the US have different rules when it comes to what’s allowed and what’s forbidden to broadcast, it’s easier to limit the streaming of a certain event to the state where it’s allowed to be held.
Some retailers, airlines, and other distributors that sell something to users from around the world might display different prices for visitors from different countries. While you will still be able to access the content, you might see an altered version of it — with a higher price, for example. Thus, you’re not accessing the real price, and that’s why we’ve mentioned this approach.
Often, movie production companies won’t let streaming services stream titles that are not yet released in a certain country to users from this location. It’s quite a logical thing to do — this approach allows companies to get as much money from cinemas as they can while the movie is still playing on the silver screens. And once movie theaters stop showing this film, the title becomes available on streaming platforms.
One country might allow what another one would forbid. That’s why publishers in some cases simply can’t allow visitors from all over the world to view the content. Otherwise, they will face legal charges for spreading the forbidden type of information.
How to bypass geo-blocking?
It’s quite easy to access content that’s blocked for users from your country: You just need to fake your location. You can do that by using proxies — they will reroute your traffic through remote servers or devices, and consequently, the destination server will see the IP address of a proxy. Simply choose the country where the content you want to access is available and connect to a proxy located there.
You can use both residential proxies and datacenter proxies and to bypass geo-blocking. However, if you want to access titles on streaming services, it’s better to use residential proxies because they will let you appear as a resident of a country of your choice — the streaming platform won’t suspect anything then.
🤖 Further reading: What Are Proxies? An Overview of How They Work and Why They're Important
🚗 Further reading: Residential Proxies: A Complete Guide to Using Them Effectively
🚲 Further reading: What Are Datacenter Proxies and When You Should Use Them
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