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Media Piracy Privacy The Internet

Hulu Blocks VPN Users 259

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-can't-get-there-from-here dept.
New submitter electronic convict writes: "Hulu, apparently worried that too many non-U.S. residents are using cheap VPN services to watch its U.S. programming, has started blocking IP address ranges belonging to known VPN services. Hulu didn't announce the ban, but users of the affected VPNs are getting this message: 'Based on your IP-address, we noticed that you are trying to access Hulu through an anonymous proxy tool. Hulu is not currently available outside the U.S. If you're in the U.S. you'll need to disable your anonymizer to access videos on Hulu.' Hulu may make Hollywood happy by temporarily locking out foreign users — at least until they find new VPN providers. But in so doing it's now forcing its U.S. customers to sacrifice their privacy and even to risk insecure connections. Hulu hasn't even implemented SSL on its site."
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Hulu Blocks VPN Users

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  • by Luckyo (1726890) on Friday April 25, 2014 @05:28PM (#46844937)

    I suspect most will continue to work, because they will simply change their IP ranges if providing access to Hulu is at all important for them.

    You can't really block someone on the internet reliably with an IP ban. Or well, you can, but the effort you'll need to keep on swatting the changing IP addresses is going to be significant.

  • Hulu has no legal way to provide a global service.

    Hulu could open Hulu Canada and license the rights for Canada from the copyright owners. Hulu could open Hulu Britain and license the rights for Ireland and Great Britain from the copyright owners. Hulu currently happens to choose not to do so.

  • Re:Not their fault (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Solozerk (1003785) on Friday April 25, 2014 @05:52PM (#46845139)

    Do you /really/ think devs in the industry would implement DRM if we didn't have to? It's a pain in the neck to code and it keeps some of our customer base from using it at all! Half of us are Linux users at home and are just as pissed as you are when things won't work with it.

    Then leave. Find a job elsewhere. Or even better: spend some of your free time writing and publishing (anonymously, of course - use tor) DRM-defeating software based on what you implemented at work - you already have the tech details since you implemented the DRM stuff (or just publish the tech details anonymously and let others implement the stuff). They can't continue playing this kind of games if no developer are helping them.

    And I don't think doing so would stop the release or funding of entertainment stuff, either (be it games, movies or music); people have been making music & art for thousand of years without that kind of shit, and people are genuinely ready to pay for content if it's quality, easily available, and reasonably priced; even if it's available elsewhere for free. They are also ready to pay to finance that kind of development even when a release is not certain (look at the many successful crowdfunded projects). It would certainly decrease the amount of shitty games/movies created, though.

    The very fact that we have the technological capability to massively distribute culture at a very low cost and we don't because of greed/artificially enforced scarcity is truly depressing.

  • Re:Not their fault (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 25, 2014 @06:18PM (#46845309)

    Previous AC again: The streaming we have now is a lot better for our culture than what we had 10 years ago, and it's a lot more accessible to more people and cheaper than DVDs. I'm very okay with this kind of "freedom" proceeding slowly, even taking a couple steps backwards once in a while, because the advancements that it does bring are completely worth it when compared to not-100%-perfect ethical mores. It's region control of an entertainment luxury, not killing puppies...I don't think I would call it "depressing".

    Technology advances the fastest when people with LOTS of money have their way, and while it's a very imperfect system, it's not a net harm to our culture by any stretch. It certainly advances a lot faster than if the giant Hollywood moguls weren't throwing money at it, and I have faith that--eventually--it will approach the kind of freedom you're after.

    (I did leave that company a few years back, but certainly not because information wants to be free!)

  • Re:Not their fault (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Solozerk (1003785) on Friday April 25, 2014 @06:37PM (#46845435)

    I'm very okay with this kind of "freedom" proceeding slowly, even taking a couple steps backwards once in a while, because the advancements that it does bring are completely worth it when compared to not-100%-perfect ethical mores.

    I'm not - why should we settle for small steps, when we already have the capability to make giant ones ? where would we be right now as a species if even half the money spent in DRM schemes/IP protection stuff had been thrown in global network deployment (there are still large parts of the planet's population with no access to the Internet, or even no electricity) and putting online courses/teaching material/culture online ?

    Technology advances the fastest when people with LOTS of money have their way

    While the rest of your post seems pretty reasonable and possibly less utopic/optimistic than mine, this I strongly doubt. It seems to me that the very resources inequalities we're seeing currently - the very fact that some people posess thousands times more money/power than most - is a major part of such an artificially enforced scarcity. It's just concentration of power, and people in power wanting to keep that power.

    Maybe I'm just too young / not cynical (call it realistic if you will) enough; that being said, once again, having the capability to diffuse culture massively and willingly limiting that capability seems like a form of madness to me. Makes you wonder what'll happen when material, real-life scarcity will no longer be an issue (and I personally think we're not that far of).

  • by tlambert (566799) on Friday April 25, 2014 @06:39PM (#46845445)

    "Also, Hulu is ad-supported. If I was one of their 'sponsors', I might be a bit annoyed that Hulu was billing me for ads delivered to countries where I don't even do business."

    People who use VPNs usually also use adblockers, they are the same crowd.

    Ad blockers are pretty poor at doing their named job when the next 1800 frames inserted into the video stream are going to be 60 seconds worth of commercials, and you can go pee or not go pee, talk to your family, or whatever, but those are the 1800 frames @ 30FPS you are going to be getting over the next 60 seconds. Hulu has a fairly captive audience, due to their implementation of streaming.

    The big argument with Aereo streaming content legally received on antennas within a given region where the information is broadcast is that the Aereo subscribers are unlikely to be customers of the local ads which paid (in theory) for the broadcast service to those devices. In other words, it's about regionality for the ads for ad-sponsorred content.

    In practice, it's no different than taking your DVR with you on vacation, and using DVR time shifting, but the ad conversion rate is closer to 0 than if the ads were being viewed by someone local, instead of someone on vacation in a hotel room in Rome. Advertisers care about conversion rate, so media providers also care about conversion rate, and anything that lowers their conversion rate lowers the advertising rate they are able to charge.

  • Re:Not their fault (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 25, 2014 @07:18PM (#46845685)

    I don't think I was quite that idealistic back in the day, but I've gotten more cynical over time, yeah.

    Resource inequality is a bad thing, but I have a hard time getting mad about entertainment luxury inequality. (Some things, like textbooks, are pretty inexcusable--but we have Wikipedia, and I grew up back in the day where encyclopedias were ungodly expensive, so I'm in a good mood about that at least.) But there's certainly good things that have come from pursuit of money. Oh yeah, great evils too, but also plenty of good.

    Example. Modern blockbuster movies with stupidly large budgets. Directors do that because they think they'll get their investment back and then some. Sure they enjoy the act of creating an impressive creative work (well, some movies are), but movies that cost hundreds of millions of dollars need more inspiration than just "I like making movies". Sure lots of them suck...but you know what, I think I'm glad that they spent all that cash on the Avengers movies. They are turning out really good, in my opinion at least. I don't think they would be so good on a Creative Commons budget.

    Anyway...Funding those movies. They make some of that back in theaters, but there's a VERY long, fat tail on that income--and that income is kept large by some of the stupid restrictions they have. Like, while it's in the theaters you can't get it at home; for X weeks out of it goes out of theaters, you can buy it but not rent it; then you can rent it but not televise it. It's a careful curve to maximize money.

    Region control is part of the same scheme, and it's not always to customers' detriment. If you can't afford to see a movie in theater for $20, maybe you can afford to buy it for $15. If you can't afford that, maybe you can rent it for $5. But if you could rent it right away, you might not see it in the theater at all. Similarly: Americans are rich enough to buy a movie for $15. In eastern Europe, where money is more scarce, the industry might sell it for $5 instead. If the price was the same everywhere, then either eastern Europe gets shafted, or they make less money in the USA, and like it or not, that money does let them make better media. Region control is super important to let them charge different amounts in different regions, and *if done correctly* the consumer in secondary markets is better off.

    Of course, in practice, companies are dumb about actually using region control, and they put off actually selling things to secondary market for months or years (sorry Australia) or they don't ever export them at all. But just because the technology is not optimally used, does not mean it is bad! Much like theoretical capitalism, or theoretical communism, a theoretical region control really does give optimal prices to every user, where they can pay a fair price for their location, and everyone wins. It's not free, but see above...if it was free we wouldn't get modern special effects.

    Look, modern DRM is universally badly implemented, but it's getting better, and in a truly perfect world it isn't hostile to the consumer. In the little picture, yeah, it's bad for you personally, but in the big picture it enables some sweeping market reforms that are pretty cool for people that otherwise couldn't afford stuff. It's hard to see from the consumer level, but if you look into the market forces at work...well, they don't actually suck. Anyway, just because we're not at a perfectly customer-unhostile implementation yet doesn't mean we should scrap the technology altogether; Rome wasn't built in a day and getting this stuff right (on the technical side and the social side) are both hard as hell. Current stuff hurts the consumer, most obvious solutions tend to hurt the media cartels, but I think someday there will be implementations that don't hurt customers or publishers. I'm okay with paying for my media--and someday, I hope that imperfect implementations won't keep me from actually using it.

    In any case...I think I'm going to go watch Netflix now, and r

  • Re:Not their fault (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PRMan (959735) on Friday April 25, 2014 @09:52PM (#46846227)

    One time, my company asked me to write a spam engine. Seven of us developers go together and threatened to quit. And we would have.

    They also tried to get me to write gambling software for an offshore casino. I refused that as well. I told my boss not to take the contract. They got investigated by the FBI shortly thereafter.

I'd rather be led to hell than managed to heavan.