Living in a country that is not the U.S., Canada or the UK can be a pain sometimes, especially when it comes to accessing online content. Many online services like Netflix geo-lock their Web site to only certain countries. People in, say New Zealand, can access these sites via proxy, but not everybody is tech savvy enough to take advantage of such technologies.
Enter FYX, a new ISP start up in New Zealand that’s offering users the chance to access these geo-locked sites through their service as part of their basic service. It’s a subsidiary of New Zealand ISP Maxnet, but it’s differentiated itself to perhaps keep its parent company out of legal trouble.
The new ISP’s focus is on “offering a much bigger Internet to New Zealanders – the type of Internet the rest of the world have had access to for years,” said Chief Internet FYX-er Andrew Schick speaking to New Zealand’s National Business Review.
NBR points out that Sky TV currently holds the rights to downloadable media like TV, film, etc in the country. It’s not only damaging the growth of local services, but it keeps out other services from competing against their monopoly. It’s these kind of monopolies that users could get around with FYX.
Netflix, Hulu and the like have all made more contributions to the fight against piracy than any government-mandated action. They can do this because they offer a better service than what you can get through piracy. Blocking access to these sites based upon where you live only serves to incentivize piracy instead of encouraging legal alternatives.
New Zealand Computer Society CEO Paul Matthews summed it perfectly when speaking to NBR:
“Enforcing content access based on location is enforcing an ‘offline’ business model on the online world. That model was always going to break sooner of later. Hats off to Maxnet for pushing the issue.”
The Web has the potential to innovate and completely change a lot of traditional business models. As much as people in the MPAA and RIAA want to say that they are keeping up with these changes, the prevalency of piracy proves them wrong. If they were truly supportive of the net, piracy would play a much smaller role in how people access content.
While this story is great news for New Zealanders, I wonder how long it will take for something similar to happen in other countries, maybe even the U.S. We have content geo-blocked here as well. While I can easily use a proxy to access foreign Web sites to watch the newest episodes of a show, I would love to watch it with the full consent of the producers.
Do you like the idea of ISPs offering a workaround for international content? Do you see it causing any problems in the future? Let us know in the comments.