Dear Hulu: Stop Treating Me Like A Criminal

from the if-you-don't-want-me-to-watch... dept

I mentioned recently that, for some idiotic reason, Hulu has stopped letting me view any of its content. That's because I use WiTopia's VPN service for security reasons. It seems that plenty of other WiTopia users are discovering this, as well, and are getting annoyed. The issue is that Hulu wants to block people from outside the US from viewing its content (for licensing reasons, even if they're pretty pointless in today's world). But, for some bizarre reason, it's been decided that anyone who uses any sort of VPN or proxy can't use Hulu at all because they might be coming from a foreign country. I'm sitting here in California and Hulu tells me I might be illegally accessing its content, so it doesn't allow it. So, instead, I don't give Hulu any additional ad views and I don't watch the content I wanted to watch. How does that help anyone? It appears to make everyone worse off. And it's not like WiTopia is some free anonymous proxy -- it's a pay-service that has been around for ages and is used regularly for WiFi security purposes. Many of its users are US-based (the company is based in the US, and most of its servers are in the US as well). So, because (gasp!) a small group of people outside the US might dare to catch a video (with ads!!), all of Witopia's US customers can't watch any content at all? This is the same ridiculous content industry mindset that drives so many people to unauthorized file sharing: they treat you as a criminal first and force you to prove you're not (or sometimes, don't even let you prove otherwise). The problem the industry is facing isn't due to some guy in Europe catching The Colbert Report from across the sea. It comes from turning off legitimate customers and users who are sick of being treated like crap.

Filed Under: content, security, video, vpn
Companies: hulu, witopia


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  1. icon
    espritdave (profile), 4 Nov 2009 @ 7:48am

    Re: Overseas viewers

    Re this comment

    "There is no money in piping US ads and bandwidth to countries around the world. Hulu isn't treating you as a criminal any more than anyone else in the world. It's unfortunate that they don't have a means to monetize traffic to other countries, but I think it's difficult to blame them for honoring their advertising partners by not allowing this gaping hole. You can't access a lot of BBC media directly... Nobody is on their back."

    I wouldn't be so sure that's there's no money in piping ads across the globe. Ask McDonalds, Nokia, Sony, Ford, Toyota, Microsoft, Apple etc. These are global brands and would surely want to take every opportunity to reach the widest audience. If there was no money in reaching overseas audiences, why when I visit US based web sites do I see ads for Toyota or Burger King? These aren't just US products, they can be bought around the world.

    Sure, Joe the used car sales guy out on Route 19 isn't going to see any reason to worry about it, but is he likely to be an advertiser on Hulu anyway?

    In defence of Hulu, I think that you'll find that the US national broadcasters like NBC & CBS also prevent overseas viewing of content via their web players. Not to say that it isn't stupid, but it does appear to the current model.

    As for the BBC, it is worth remembering that they are owned and financed by taxpayers - not advertisers. Their license which is governed by parliament forbids some media being offered outside the UK. Why should the local taxpayers subsidise overseas viewers?

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