The Internet is a truly global phenomenon, with every single country in the world being connected to the Web. But, due to archaic licensing systems, video isn’t yet a truly global player.
As anyone outside of Great Britain who has tried to use the BBC iPlayer will know, the service is limited to those resident in the UK. This is partly due to the license fee paid by UK citizens, but more to do with content licensing issues.
Outside Of The US
The problem is even worse for those of us who live outside of the US, with TV and video services such as Hulu, NBC Direct, and The Daily Show archives all blocked to those of us not fortunate enough to be born in the States.
While I understand the issues at stake here, with licensing deals with individual countries making it financially worthwhile for the companies to keep these limitations in place, is it now time for a complete overhauling of the system?
New Media – New Licensing System?
Licensing and rights management makes perfect sense in the world of old media and traditional television. It means companies can maximise profits by doing individual deals around the world.
But as I said before, the Internet has changed everything. When it comes to the Web, a new approach is needed, and in the field of video, that means content is going to have to be available globally.
I know that proxy servers mean Web video is available globally, but using one to trick the system in to thinking you are somewhere you’re not is likely to violate your ISP’s TOS, effectively putting you at risk of being cut off.
Plus, why should you have to go to the effort of conjuring up a workaround to watch content that should be available for all in the first place?
This article was prompted by the recent emergence of IMDb as a location for an amazing array of video content, all of which is unavailable to me living in the UK. That’s frustrating to say the least, and is likely to get even more so as the range of content increases over time.
For Web video to truly take off in the way it deserves to, the licensing and rights management systems are going to have to be altered to allow all of us who use the Internet to have access to all content regardless of our location.
If this doesn’t happen then I guess torrent sites will continue to increase in popularity until the media and television companies lose control over all of their content anyway.
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