"The practice of geo-circumvention detection gives SPs options for control beyond simple blocking of users. There is the opportunity to steer users towards legitimate routes to the desired content."  Service providers are getting smarter about geo-filtering for internet-savvy consumers. Read about the challenges and solutions in the conflict between content protection and access. 

By Tom Thomas


Massive improvements in access, speed, and quality have given meteoric rise to Internet-delivered content over the last few years. Owners and distributors of content have licensing agreements largely based on geographic boundaries; consumer appetite for content, however, is borderless. The combination of OTT content platforms and the existence of cross-border online pathways, such as VPN, facilitate access to content worldwide, making content distribution more difficult to monitor, safeguard, and ultimately, control. This article delves into the challenge that content owners and distributors are facing to meet their licensing and distribution agreements and what can be done about it.

The last few years have seen a steep rise in the consumption of internet-delivered, or streamed, content versus traditional television. This change, along with recent technical innovations, is causing disruption of a fundamental pillar of the content owners' license model: the control of content release windows on a country-by-country basis via content distribution partners. Online service providers (Over-the-Top players), apply geo-filtering and other mechanisms in their services to restrict content access. In response, consumers use geo-circumvention methods to bypass restrictions. Whenever a popular circumvention route is blocked, a new one pops up to take over. Netflix referred to this situation as a "cat-and-mouse game." Will it ever end?

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Published in M&E Journal - Winter 2016