Harvey Norman pushes copyright bypass

Harvey Norman pushes copyright bypass

Summary: It's just a bit hypocritical for Harvey Norman to sell devices that set up a virtual private network (VPN) to bypass geolocation blocking.


It's just a bit hypocritical for Harvey Norman to sell devices that set up a virtual private network (VPN) to bypass geolocation blocking.

Daily Show blocked

The Daily Show geoblocked in Australia
(Screenshot by Josh Taylor/ZDNet Australia)

About a month ago, I noticed that Comedy Central had geoblocked all clips and episodes of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report on its websites to users whose IP was based in Australia. I had predicted that this might happen a while ago, when Foxtel bought exclusive rights to the show, leaving the ABC in the cold.

Now, not only does Foxtel have exclusive rights to the content on TV, but Comedy Central has also now prevented Aussies from seeing clips of the show's biting US political satire online.

When I whined about this on Twitter, one of the obvious suggestions for getting past the ban would be to set up a VPN to mask my IP address, and continue to enjoy the hilarity.

Enter Harvey Norman.

According to a report in The Australian today, the retail giant has been selling McTiVia wireless networking devices since June. The $299 device, in combination with a $9.99-per-month subscription to VPNSecure.me allows Australians to bypass geoblocking to watch online TV services, such as Hulu and Netflix, on their TV.

Who would have thought that Gerry Harvey, engaged in a fierce battle against overseas online retailers, would step up and save Australians from the antiquated domestic content providers seeking to force consumers to give them more money?

Even though Gerry Harvey has said he is now investigating whether the McTiVia devices breach copyright law in Australia, it's clearly a murky legal area. The fact that US residents get the content for free, and the ease with which geoblocking can be bypassed for us to get the same treatment, just shows how ridiculous geoblocking is in the first place.

Rather than going after retailers like Gerry Harvey for just giving customers a product they want, Foxtel and other local content owners who feel slighted by the McTiVia should instead investigate local hosting of their content online, for free with ads as already occurs in the US. This would completely undermine the product's business model and keep it legal.

Topic: Legal


Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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  • How does a non-tech person get a VPN? I love the Daily Show and am royally **** off at Foxtel.
  • Telstra...Foxtel is just another example of how they run their monopoly. Blocking content we should be able to view on our PC's or TV's if we wish is about as monopolistic as you can imagine.

    Clothing is another example of monopoly behavior, when US on-line stores wont sell a product made in Australia because the Australian manufacturer doesn't like the competition & the fact the same product on-line can be purchased in the US for half the price. Try to buy & your told..buy it from the Australian stores, we aren't allowed to sell to you!!

    Great! Is the ACCC watching this type of behavior... doubtful. Like most bureaucracies, they do nothing until push comes to shove & they are forced to act or face the music of a public inquiry.
  • And people (by "people" I mean the copyright scammers that pull cunning stunts like this, region locking, format locking, DRM, etc, etc, etc) wonder why things like P2P (and now probably VPN) are so popular...