Have you ever been so frustrated with Netflix, Youtube or some other streaming service because you signed up for a premium account, only to find out that there were plenty of TV shows, movies and content that were geo-blocked in your country’s region?
After all, it does not seem fair to you that you paid for their service, so why should you not be able to access all the content they have to offer, right?
You may be aware that streaming services such as Netflix have already expanded their services to various countries all over the world. And you may also be aware that in some countries like the Unites States, library content for the Americans are much larger as compared to what we get in Malaysia or any other country.
But why is it that streaming services like Netflix block certain shows and offer different content for different countries?
It all boils down to two simple words:
Content licensing is the distribution of media assets/intellectual property to any third party. In general, at an agreed and negotiated fee, the license will specify the fixed term in which the asset/content is distributed, and how it can be used by the buyer.
It is simply because different countries have different sets of laws in regards to content licensing.
In a streaming service case, for example Netflix, before they are even able to launch, they would firstly need to get licensing agreements from licensing groups in order to use and show their content.
There has to be a way for different studios, directors and actors to get paid their royalties, and these agreements will ensure that.
The problem is; even if a US entertainment company like Netflix had a licensing agreement with labels in a certain country, the agreement would not be much use even with the same label in a different country.
Take for example if the US service wished to launch in Malaysia, they would still need to draw up a new licensing agreement with the label’s Malaysian counterpart. Which is why these entertainment services tend to have staggered launches by different countries, rather than all at once.
While some countries such as Russia and North Korea specifically ban the use of VPNs, in Malaysia, a VPN and using a VPN service is perfectly legal.
Currently, there are still no laws banning the use of VPN services in Malaysia. And deliberately bypassing geo-restrictions to access overseas content is not considered illegal in Malaysia.