Not available in your location

There are few phrases that suck more than:

Not available in your location.

Off the top of my head, it’s up there with, “It’s not you, it’s me”, “Your call is important to us”, “I wouldn’t say it was bad sex”, and “My mother is moving in” (feel free to add your own in the comments).

It’s 2013 and we have this handy thing called the Internet that can transport bits and bytes quicker than your average traditional publisher can start up a vanity press.

People have tried to explain territorial rights to me (some of them have even done a good job of it), but it all sounds like some middleman somewhere tacking on his percentage. And not to be too rough on the bean-counting middlemen, they actually did serve a purpose once, it’s just that their time has passed.

Whether it’s music, movies, TV shows, or books, the only thing stopping instant global distribution of digital product is the business model. Some companies just haven’t figured it out yet (or maybe they have and they’re squeezing out a couple more years before calling it quits).

I live in one of the territories (Australia) and bump up against content I want to consume (and pay for) not being available all the time. On some level I even understand it. Hell, if somebody offered me a half decent bottle of scotch for the Unswesdem rights to my work, I’d probably take it. But it still sucks when you’re the person who has waited for the latest release of whatever-media-product only to discover that even though the content you want is available online, you can’t (legally) have it.

Old world business models are imposing lines and creating borders and divisions that simply don’t exist on the Internet. Further, businesses have to actually spend money creating infrastructure to ensure people who log on from location A can access the content they want, while people who log on from location B cannot, unless they happen to be on vacation in Location C, or have set their address to location D even though they’re on an exchange program in location E.

Hopefully one day we’ll get to the stage where the only location that matters is that of your credit card. But until then, and no matter what the justification, it still sucks being told:

You don’t get to play.

  • Jared Morgan

    They will start to realise that their model is flawed when too much money is lost though piracy. Obviously, we all need to try harder on this front to show them this.

    • Lee Carlon

      That’s certainly a consequence of trying to stop people from accessing the content they want to consume, though I’m less sure about ‘showing them’ :)

  • Scott Thomas

    As content creators, media companies retain the rights to distribute their product as they see fit. We can all see that their current model doesn’t work in their favour, but they’re scared to death of opening the floodgates and then never being able to close them again.

    I try to think of it as analogous to the trepidation I felt about sharing too much personal info online. Early in my Internet days I was afraid of that new, once-crossed-never-uncrossed frontier. Now I’m past that fear and my life is measurably richer for it. We just need to wait until the media companies to come to that realisation themselves. 

    This is why I rent movies from Google as often as I can, so other media companies can see there’s a benefit to using the Internet to reach foreign markets.

    Vote with your wallet, not your torrent!