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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. identicon
    Jim, 4 Nov 2009 @ 7:50am

    Re: Re: You're off on this one, Mike.

    There's simply no reason that Hulu should be agreeing to block VPN site access.

    There's probably a great reason: They might not get a lot of the content that attracts users to Hulu.

    You never have to agree to anything.

    If you want something (i.e. a license for content), then you do.

    The content providers need Hulu more than Hulu needs them. Fine, let The Office not be on Hulu, and then watch what happens.

    Perhaps you have more information than I do, but that statement seems to be pure conjecture. I think you may be right in the long-term, but right now I believe that The Office would still do pretty well without Hulu. That's just my opinion.

    I really believe that you're dramatically oversimplifying this, and your seem to be totally ignoring any practical considerations. I've met lots of movie makers, for example, that pretty much sold a kidney to fund their films. If Cannal+ comes along and offers one of them beau coup bucks for exclusive European rights, then you'd better believe that the movie maker is going to agree to many of the terms required by Cannal+, even if those terms are stupid.

    The companies that license content to Hulu may have limited options because of other agreements. For Hulu, the question may be: Do we want to keep VPN users so badly that we'll walk away from content that will make our site valuable to millions of other users? Your post and response suggests that you think rights holders and Hulu should make servicing VPN users show-stoppers in all of their multi-million dollar agreements. Mike, you're a smart guy and you have a great blog, but that just seems ridiculous to me. Blocking a relatively small number of VPN users may be stupid; however, loosing important contracts because you didn't agree to something ridiculous, but has relatively little downside, may be far more stupid.


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