What Is Geo-Restriction and How to Bypass It?
Have you ever clicked on the website link to open it and instead gotten a message saying “the service is not available in your area”? Welcome to the club as you’re not the only one. The primary reason that it happens is geo-restriction. Many websites and even streaming services are geo-restricted means that they are only available in a few countries.
Sadly, if you reside in geo-restricted countries, you will not be able to access certain websites and streaming services. However, to help you seamlessly unblock geo-restricted content from anywhere in the world, different alternatives can be helpful, and one of them is a VPN (a virtual private network).
By the end of this post, you will understand what is geo-restriction and how you can get your way around it with ease.
What Is Geo-Restriction?
Geo-restriction is a process by which different websites and platforms restrict or block their availability in some countries due to content limitations and copyright issues. Such websites determine your actual location with your IP address as it exposes the area from where you are logging in from. If, however, you are from a country where such websites don’t allow their content to be accessed, your request will be denied instantly.
What is the point of geo-restrictions and why do websites impose them on their content is something people want to know? Let us make it easy for you. The two major reasons why geo-restrictions are imposed in the first place are licensing agreements and copyrights. Gambling websites are often blocked in regions where they don’t operate, and streaming services restrict their content where they are not available.
Furthermore, the government also practices geo-restrictions on many instances to block certain websites that it doesn’t want its citizens to access. Online retailers like Amazon implement geo-restrictions as well to make people use their local website version and buy products at prices that are maybe higher than those in other countries.
How Do Geo-Restrictions Work?
Geo-restrictions work by implementing tracking and geolocation technology to get to know your Internet Protocol (IP) address. Why your IP address? Well, your IP address is the address provided to you by your internet service provider (ISP). It acts as your home address on the internet, which means it carries your actual location, and every website or any online service you access can see where you’re from.
This is how the geo-restricted websites see your actual location and block off their services if you live somewhere they don’t offer their services. So, it always depends on your IP address to which websites and services will be available to you. For instance, if your internet service provider is from the US, you will not be able to access and watch BBC iPlayer as it is geo-restricted in the US.
Example of Geo-Restrictions
Geo-restrictions can be imposed on any website. However, it is only implemented on the ones that have copyrighted content. This is why the platforms that practice geo-restrictions are usually streaming services. Almost every streaming service is geo-restricted and prevents people from certain countries not to access their content.
Even if a specific streaming service is available in your country, it is most likely that not all of its movies and TV shows will be available to you due to geo-blocking.
Below are some popular streaming services and other platforms that are geo-restricted in many countries around the world.
Most of you might be thinking that Netflix is available in your country, yes it might be. However, the way Netflix follows geo-restriction is a bit different. Netflix has a different content library in every country where it’s available, which means that as a user, you cannot access all the content that Netflix has to offer.
For example, one of the famous TV shows “The Office” is available on Netflix but only in the UK content library. If you are from the US and have a Netflix account, pause reading this post and go double-check. The TV shows and movie owners have to follow strict copyright agreements that prevent them from allowing the content to be available in every country where Netflix is available.
Moreover, in the US you can subscribe to any of the Cox TV packages and stream Netflix with ease. You can even confirm with Cox Cable customer service regarding which plan will suit you the best according to your entertainment needs.
Amazon Prime not only restricts its streaming content because of geo-restrictions but its other services as well based on your location. For example, software, games, eBooks, and other digital content can be blocked due to licensing agreements and copyright restrictions.
YouTube video uploaders can make some of their videos inaccessible in particular countries. This simply happens because such content creators decide that people from some regions should not be able to watch their content. Sounds frustrating, right?
The geo-restrictions on YouTube videos is also common because usually, the content creators upload clips of movies, songs, or games that are not their own, rather they take it from existing movies, music video, etc. To stay safe from copyright claims, they make their videos unavailable in many regions where they believe someone can strike copyright claims on them.
Many live sports websites, such as the MLB TV app, restrict their content to particular countries only. They won’t allow you to stream the best baseball matches if the team’s local cable TV is broadcasting it.
Furthermore, many sports events only sell exclusive sports broadcasting rights to specific TV companies, which means that live matches will only be available to stream in countries where such TV companies offer their services. This subsequently prevents people from geo-restricted countries from watching live sports.
Disney Plus gained rapid success when Covid-19 struck the world. Many people got to know that they can find all Disney+ classic content easily on the app. However, it is not available in many countries because of geo-restrictions.
There is so much to watch on Disney Plus, such as the movies and TV shows from Marvel Studios, Star Wars, National Geographic, Pixar, and more. People from the US, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Italy, and Japan can watch Disney Plus as it’s available there. However, in countries where Disney Plus is not available due to geo-blocking, people cannot access it.
HBO Max is a streaming service that is also unavailable in many countries around the world because of geo-restrictions. It is known to produce the most-watched TV shows, such as Game of Thrones, House of the Dragon, Euphoria, and so on. HBO Max being geo-restricted in many countries prevents a lot of users to access hit TV shows and movies like this.
Is Geo-Restriction Legal?
It does not matter how frustrating it is for users to deal with geo-restriction, because it is legal. It is a way in which legal contracts can be enforced, such as copyright agreements and content limitations.
Geo-restricting users from particular countries is how all the media houses respect the broadcasting rights that vary in different countries. For instance, Netflix may possess the right to stream a particular movie only in the US and not anywhere else. Similarly, other streaming services follow the same practice as they are required to.
How Can You Bypass Tough Geo-Restrictions?
Geo-restrictions may have disappointed you at some point in your life and it can be frustrating. However, we are going to tell you how you can bypass such geo-restrictions no matter where you are in the world.
A VPN (a virtual private network) is the best and the most straightforward way of bypassing geo-restrictions. As we mentioned earlier, websites on the internet use your IP address to determine whether you can access their content.
A VPN can hide your real IP address and provide you with one of its own that can help you bypass geo-restrictions quite easily. For instance, BBC iPlayer is not available in the US as it is only available in the UK, so being in the US you cannot watch it. This is where a VPN comes in handy. It can provide you with a UK IP address from one of its UK servers and you will be able to unblock BBC iPlayer with ease.
Likewise, you can trick any website or streaming service into thinking that you are from a country where its services are available. Many people around the world use a VPN to find their way around the tough geo-restrictions. It does not matter where you are in the world, as you will be able to unblock services and platforms like Netflix, Disney Plus, Hulu, Amazon Prime, etc. with great ease.
Other Benefits of Using a VPN
Other than helping you deal with geo-restrictions; a VPN comes in handy with a lot more things. We have discussed the major benefits of using a VPN that you might be interested in.
It Helps Your Online Activities Stay Hidden
While connected to a VPN, all your online activities are always hidden. Hidden from whom? Well, for starters your ISP has all the access to monitor your online activities and in some cases is legally required to share them as well. This is a clear breach of security and this is why people use VPNs to avoid anyone lurking on their private network activities. Moreover, hackers and online snoopers can also not see what you are on the web while connected to a VPN.
Credible VPN service providers use military-grade encryption protocols such as AES 256-bit to ensure no one can breach your online privacy. There are no known ways of cracking military-grade encryption which means you will have mental peace that no one on the internet is keeping tabs on your online information.
Avoid the Discrimination in Prices
Do you know that depending on where you live, the prices of a product or service can vary? This is what we call price discrimination and luckily you can stay safe from it by using a VPN. When you connect to a different server of a VPN, you get a new IP address. This way, you can pay a price that is not relatively high than what others are paying in their countries.
Safety on Public Wi-Fi Networks
The urge and happiness to connect to a free public Wi-Fi network is something that makes every American do it. However, they may not know that connecting to free public Wi-Fi networks comes with risks. Hackers and online snoopers are always lurking on such networks and can easily steal the user’s personal information. However, connecting to such networks with a credible VPN service can help you stay safe.
Never Use Free VPNs
It is imperative for you to know that using free VPNs brings no benefits. They are not strong enough to deal with the geo-blocks and even if they do unblock a certain website for you, the speeds will not be good and your online experience will be ruined.
On top of everything, they are not safe. Have you ever wondered if free VPNs don’t charge anything from the users, how do they make money? They sell your online browsing information to different third parties on the internet for a good price. This is why it is always recommended to go for premium VPN providers, such as ExpressVPN, Surfshark, and NordVPN.
That is all! Now you know how to bypass tough geo-restrictions quite easily from anywhere in the world. Dealing with geo-restrictions can be pretty frustrating, but at times it is essential for different websites and platforms to impose them.
Moreover, we have shown you how to deal with such geo-restrictions and access your desired content no matter where you are. Get the best VPN today and bypass geo-restrictions with ease.