Geoblocking refers to the blocking of multimedia content in certain countries due to licensing regulations. This could be a music video on YouTube or the streaming of series or sports events. Messages such as “This content is not available in your country” are the frequent and annoying consequence.
The EU has reformed legislation on country blocking and geoblocking. According to the EU portability regulation, providers who have acquired content in an EU country since then must also make it available to users in all other countries of the European Union.
- So you can stream your favourite series while on holiday or business trip. However, geoblocking is not completely abolished: the legislator has only prescribed this regulation for paid programmes.
- Subscriptions from payment service providers such as Netflix, Maxdome, Amazon Prime or Sky Go are covered by this regulation.
- However, free media libraries, such as those of ARD and ZDF, do not. Here it depends on the provider whether he allows streaming from abroad.
Where do I find information about geoblocking?
Similar to roaming charges within the EU, the regulation only affects groups of people who are temporarily abroad. Users who move permanently to another EU country must continue to expect to be blocked after a certain period of use.
Ways to avoid geoblocking
Streaming fans avoid this problem by using a proxy server. The intermediary forwards their request. The streaming provider then no longer sees the IP address of the user, but that of the proxy server. If the proxy server is located in a country where the desired content can be retrieved, nothing stands in the way of the pleasure. In the meantime, however, this method no longer works in every case, since the IP addresses of many such intermediaries are now known to the providers and are blocked. In addition, proxies may pass on the real IP under certain circumstances.
Do not search for a proxy server for every application: Use VPN service
A VPN service (virtual private network) permanently maintains a connection to the provider’s server. This usually requires special software. Thanks to this software, neither the Internet provider nor the website accessed can see your actual IP address. Instead, only the IP address of the VPN provider is visible. In addition, the server’s location information is transmitted instead of its own.
In this way, users receive free content from a media library or previously paid for content, such as video-on-demand offers from Netflix or sports broadcasts via Sky Go, even if this would not be possible from the actual location due to geoblocking. Of course, it is necessary for these latter offers to have a corresponding subscription with the provider.
The use of a VPN tool to circumvent such a geo-blocking does not legally constitute circumvention of an effective protective measure by the provider. Streaming in this way is therefore permitted. The providers can see this differently and exclude this procedure in their general terms and conditions. Apart from a new blockade, however, users have nothing to fear when using the service. The probability that providers such as Sky Go, Netflix or Amazon Prime will block paying customers is rather low.
Can be used on different devices
The majority of VPN services offer customers simultaneous use on several, usually up to five devices, such as PC, laptop, smartphone and tablet, after booking a tariff.