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Geo-restriction or geo-blocking refers to the practice of restricting access to different types of data and contents based on the geographical location of the user.
Websites and services which use techniques for geo-restricted content use different methods to determine the location of user to decide whether the access should be allowed or not. Different services and websites use different techniques to determine the location of the visitor; some use time zone settings of each visitor but this is easily deceivable so some use IP address to determine the exact geographical location.
Suppose you live in New Zealand where Pandora Internet Radio is available (Pandora Internet Radio is available only in Australia, USA and New Zealand). You can access its musical contents there but when you are on travel, to some other country where Pandora Internet Radio is not available you cannot access it because of the geo-restriction. The reason behind it is the licensing issues in other countries. There are hundreds of different online services that have applied geo-restriction techniques. There are several kinds geo-restricted content regardless of the reason.
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The term of geo-restriction usually refers but not limited to premium multimedia contents on the web. Some of the common types of geo-restricted contents are movies and TV shows. The reasons behind geo-restriction may vary and some common reasons are copyright or licensing issues, blackouts and price discrimination.
The justification of geo-restriction is quite simple; the ownership of different contents may vary depending on the geographical location and different regions. For example HBO Now is a popular service which is exclusively available in USA. Users outside of America cannot access HBO Now because the parent company of this service named Time Warner has awarded the rights of those contents to a different service named Bell Media in other regions like Canada.
Blackouts are also a common reason why people use VPNs to watch their favorite events. Blackouts refer to the unavailability of internet access to some events because the TV or radio has exclusive rights of it; for example NHL, Baseball and NBA events in USA.
Another common reason behind geo-restriction is price discrimination. This particular technique is mainly used in online stores where buyers are forced to buy items on a relatively higher price because of their geographical location. For example Australia Tax which is a terms exclusively developed to express the phenomenon of price discrimination. However this term is used for physical items but it perfectly applies on online stores and especially on digital goods.
There are several different reasons behind a service or website blocking its contents for a specific region. But the important thing is, there are many ways to bypass these restrictions and access geo-restricted contents: VPN, Smart DNS, proxy, Tor etc. We wrote a detailed article about how to unblock Geo-Restricted Content.
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