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Bypassing Territorial Restrictions Isn’t New, So Why Isn’t the Industry Paying Attention?

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Bypassing Territorial Restrictions Isn’t New, So Why Isn’t the Industry Paying Attention

Remember DVDs, those plastic discs that movies came on? Back in the day, DVDs were produced for different regions and a DVD made for Europe wouldn’t work in North America and vice-versa. That wasn’t just because TVs in those regions worked differently, the players themselves had regional lockouts in an attempt to safeguard the differential pricing strategies of rightsholders. So, territorial restrictions on content is nothing new.

What’s also not new are attempts to bypass territorial restrictions. People were soon able to figure out how to disable region checks in their DVD players and that allowed them to buy cheaper movies from abroad and watch them at home.

While most people now access content via online streaming services, they are still looking for ways to bypass territorial restrictions to watch content more cheaply (or for free), and geo-piracy continues to be a huge threat. An example of just how much is at stake is that Serie A lost an estimated $200 million when BeIN Sport TV demanded a refund after rampant piracy meant its territorial exclusivity was compromised.

But wait, there’s now a new twist in content piracy – Residential IPs

Rightsholders charge a significant premium for territorial exclusivity and when users try to bypass these geographical restrictions, it’s called geo-piracy or geolocation fraud. The easiest way users do this is to utilize a VPN or DNS proxy to fake their IP address in order to appear to be in one country when they’re really in another.

Recently, VPN providers have been quick to offer users a “free” VPN service. However, these “free” VPNs have a real cost to the user, since the VPN provider essentially hijacks the user’s residential IP address and sells it to the highest bidder – usually other VPN providers who then sell them on as a premium option for undetectable location spoofing. (The consent to “lease” the user’s residential IP address is buried in the terms and conditions of the “free” VPN software.)

There is a catch, however.

Residential IP addresses are expensive to use for the actual content delivery, so they are only employed at the website or app level to grant users access to the geo-restricted content. Once the actual video starts streaming at the CDN level, the VPN or DNS Proxy provider switches back to a cheaper non-residential (data center) IP address. This IP switch can be detected by the CDN and they can immediately stop the stream.

By integrating VPN detection at the CDN level, this switch back to a VPN’s data center IP can be easily detected and that’s the reason why rightsholders and content owners are increasingly requiring their streaming services and OTT broadcasters to check for VPNs during the video stream at the CDN level. A residential IP might get the user through the initial access check, but once the video starts to stream, another IP check is completed and the show’s over!

GeoGuard’s industry leading VPN/DNS Proxy detection is fully integrated at the CDN level with Akamai, AWS CloudFront and others to provide fast and easy access to our award-winning technology, that has been independently tested and rated as 97.5% effective by Kingsmead Security.

Learn more about the residential IP issue and how to combat this threat in our White Paper.