Internet censorship isn’t just for porn buffs and the Chinese. One step outside of the States and your world-wide-web loses a few strings.
Nearly all of America’s top video and music websites are either prohibited or heavily moderated overseas. Media licensing rights within countries are dealt with on an individual basis in accordance with local laws, making it a timely and expensive venture.
Legal terms and the international restrictions that bound them will pull the fun-plug on unsuspecting travelers who did not prepare for all of the trip’s inevitable down-time.
To avoid the downer of finding that Pandora can’t DJ your next Bali beach party, look over these media websites that are not fully functional outside of the United States.
*Internet censorship by location can change without notice, just ask YouTube. If you have updated information regarding access to specific media please share by listing the name, availability and location in the comments below.
Although expanding to a global audience is part of Pandora’s long-term goals, due to licensing constraints, the online radio is not available for listeners outside of the U.S. with the exception of new trials in Australia and New Zealand. Pandora is looking to offer full services including mobile access to the two countries.
Spotify- Originally from Sweden, the music streamer currently holds rights with 20 countries. Aside from the locations included, after the program is downloaded, you have free access to music for up to 14 days abroad. Spotify also claims to offer unlimited and premium subscriptions available in any country.
Jamendo – The online community for music artists and fans allows international users to upload and download music for free under the Creative Common License. Music is available from over 120 countries and the website is available in 6 languages.
Last.fm - Outside of the US, free service is available in Germany and the UK. Apart from these three countries, international users with a wi-fi connection can listen to a 50 track free trial followed by the option to join with subscription.
Shoutcast – Over forty thousand radio stations listed in the free online directory are accessible from locations outside of the US, the catch is that you are solely responsible for complying with local laws where you access the service.
Hulu brought traditional TV to the online world. Unfortunately, that world is only accessible in the US and, as of recent, Japan. The video library is continuously growing but the possibility to reach a global audience is currently slim. The company is interested in expanding worldwide but streaming rights and distribution agreements stall the process.
Vubalu – Launched in early 2012 for internet users in Canada, Vubalu has compiled a catalog of TV shows from Canada, Europe and the US. The website links to the show’s Canadian network site, eliminating the guess work out of finding a specific video. Since Vubalu connects directly to the network’s website, it’s a legal and safe way to access videos.
SlingBox - This device can transmit video from your home TV to a wireless connection regardless of location. The TV doesn’t have to be turned on to access the full program and you can remotely change the channels and schedule recordings from your computer or mobile device.
VPNs – Virtual private networks are known for providing expats and companies with multiple locations confidential access to the internet. Hulu doesn’t affiliate with any VPNs and has blocked detectable anonymous proxies but it would be a disservice not to mention the elephant in the room- the endless VPN options available online. Not all VPNs and proxies are created equal so do your research and read reviews before testing one out. Another alternative is to connect two personal computers via opening a network between your laptop and a computer back at home base.
Currently, only the US has full access to the features on Netflix.com. In recent years the video streamer became the first of its kind when it acquired licenses in over fifty countries outside of North America. The foreign regions include most of Latin America and the new additions of Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden. Subscribers abroad have partial viewing access to the movie library and are subject to limited mobile access.
Indiemoviesonline.com – Quickly becoming a favorite source for free independent films, IMO has a quality collection of classics, documentaries and short films. The movie library can be viewed in the US, UK, Australia and Canada. For an updated list of availability by location click here.
Youtube – This site is not just for webcam sensations. YouTube now has a directory of movies for sale and for free. You can also find free movies by browsing user-generated content, although the legality of those videos are not always certain. Although the site appears to have a global reach, because of the videos’ constant ethical, legal and security issues, it’s difficult to accurately keep count of YouTube’s censorship by location.
Torrent sites - I am not one to incriminate myself or ruin the fun for others by listing names but torrent sites are out there. And although their security and legality are always in question, there are thousands of users watching free movies on these services every day.