Archive for July 8th, 2010

Geo-Blocking Sites a Business Rather Than Legal Issue

The Internet was once viewed as a “borderless” world that had little regard for the physical location of users.  That sentiment likely seems outdated today to many Canadian Internet users who have grown accustomed to clicking on links for audio or video services only to be advised that the content, site or service is not available in their area.

My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes that “geo-blocking” has become standard practice among broadcasters, sports leagues, and music services that use technologies to identify the likely location of an Internet user in real-time and block the content in some circumstances.  From World Cup broadcasts to Hulu.com (a popular U.S. video site) to Spotify (a European music service), Canadians often find themselves unable to access content and unsure who is to blame.

While some have misleadingly suggested that outdated laws are the reason behind the blocking, the reality is that geo-blocking is invariably a business issue, not a legal one.  Indeed, geo-blocking occurs worldwide – U.S. residents are similarly unable to use Spotify and are blocked from accessing the CBC’s streaming coverage of the World Cup. Rather than a reaction to older laws, the geo-blocking approach is actually an attempt to preserve an older business model, namely content licencing on a country-by-country or market-by-market approach [note that I say older, not outdated – territorial licencing obviously makes financial sense in some situations].

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July 8, 2010 25 comments Columns

Greens/EFA Call for ACTA Transparency

The Greens/EFA group of Members of the European Parliament have issued an urgent appeal to retain transparency in the ACTA negotiations.  The MEPs protest the decision to backtrack from releasing draft texts following last week’s meeting in Switzerland.

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July 8, 2010 Comments are Disabled Must Reads

Do-Not-Call List Data: $73,000 in Fines, $250 Collected

Senator Percy Downe has obtained interesting information on the enforcement side of the do-not-call list.  According to data obtained by Downe, the CRTC has imposed $73,000 in fines, but has collected only $250 (as of March 1, 2010).

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July 8, 2010 2 comments Must Reads