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back to article Consumer group urges Aussies to spoof IP addresses

The official organ of the Australian Consumers Association (ACA), the nation's main consumer lobby group, has offered advice on how Australians can avoid geo-blocking regimes. It's more than a little controversial for the ACA to have done so, through this article in its publication CHOICE, inasmuch as the article itself admits “ …

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Silver badge

The SMH puts the Surface at t $559.... I know Aussie GST is 10%., so 599 x 1/11 to get the ex GST price is $54.54... So taking the $25+ figure from the article I see a price discrepancy in Australia's favour when you remember US prices are Ex Sales Tax.

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Anonymous Coward

but then - who really wants a microsoft tablet? Remember what happens to first gen Xboxs

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Silver badge

Yeah I remember: legislation mandated the use of a lead-free solder in consumer electronics. Being new, people weren't experienced in designing around its limitations, and failures ensued. That was designed over 7 years ago.

But what heck has that got to do with this new Surface tablet thingy?

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Anonymous Coward

Seven years ago...

those of us who manufacture electronics for a living had RoHS processes pretty well nailed down, thank you.

The issue is that Microsoft is not culturally a hardware manufacturer; and since it hasn't that expertise, it outsources both design (yes, including the Surface) and manufacture to contractors (which it still attempts to manage) and third-party vendors. This may not be such a bad thing for low-volume products (although I know many of the contractors, who all bitch about Microsoft's inability to understand hardware manufacturing), but inevitably ends up producing high first-generation failure rates on complex products.

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Mushroom

Re: Seven years ago...

You mean like Nvidia and Apple for instance who had similar hardware issues?

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Hmm, I'm not convinced that's it anyway. There's been a lot said about poor Xbox solder connections and the X-clamps, but mainly by those selling snake-oil X-clamp upgrades or trolls trying to get fools to brick their machines by putting towels around them.

All I know is that the one in our house used to RROD repeatedly. The thing that fixed it, permanently, was to clean the PSU plug and socket thoroughly with a cotton bud soaked in alcohol and apply a squirt of WD40 to the holes in the plug afterwards. Now two years without a hint of an RROD from a box that used to do it on a daily basis.

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Coat

Welcome to Oz... please leave your wallet at the door.

“Some copyright experts claim those who promote devices or programs that encourage people to infringe copyright are breaking the law.”

How is this infringing on copyright? You are LEGALLY purchasing an item from a LEGITIMATE seller and yet they are claiming it is illegal.

Keeping in balance, $AU25 difference is not a huge mark up, but when you are talking about software that the price changes DRASTICALLY as soon as they find out your IP address (and there is no production costs to deliver the software electronically to you) there is no valid or moral reason to do so (excluding the mandatory GST that Australia imposes)

This investigation is a long time coming. We Aussies have been gouged for far too long on everything from software to electronics to oil. Even locally produced items are over priced.

Might want to cover up a bit better, your protectionist undergarments are showing.

...mine is the one with the Non-Australian IP Address attached.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Welcome to Oz... please leave your wallet at the door.

Because the big compagnies don't want you paying less for stuff and enjoying YOUR end of globalisation.

It's fine for them to ship jobs to places that pay less, but can't have shoppers doing the same now can we?

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Trollface

"Channel BT"

I like that term.

As a huge downloader of TV torrents I've noticed that Sky, in the last year or two, has taken to airing popular shows a couple of weeks after they air in the US (as opposed to what, a year after, previously).

Actually I don't know why I'm still paying my cable company for a TV signal. Must go about changing that...

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Mushroom

Price gougers and Geoblockers can go rot in hell, THEY, not consumers are the main cause of piracy. When I go to Amazon to buy an eBook, or whatever, and get a bold faced "You can not buy this book in your region" they lose all right to complain about people pirating that content.

People want to do the right thing, but when you make it harder for them to purchase something than if they stole it, you're only harming yourself. There is zero legitimate reason for digital content (priced in USD! Steam!) to cost more in one region.

It's complete bollocks. Get rid of Geoblocking, get rid of price discriminations, and then if piracy keeps being a problem you can bitch, but not until then.

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Silver badge

It's great you want to do the right thing, so do those who block you.

They have a limited right to sell the content in certain regions, evidently yours isn't one of them. If they don't block you, they risk their agreement with the content owner to be able to sell it at all.

So blame the co tent owners, not the blockers

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Facepalm

I believe the proper response to that argument is "then they can go fuck themselves."

Don't tell me I'm not allowed to pay you for something and then go crying to the courts that I've stolen from you when I get it anyway. You had an opportunity to take my money and you said "No thanks."

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Do you have a similar response to the Supermarket who refuses to Sell Alcohol or Cigarettes to a child?

They do not have the legal right to sell it to you in either case.

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Headmaster

Your analogy is invalid; we're not minors and digital copies of a movie or video game aren't anything like cigarettes or alcohol.

Beyond that, age restrictions on those products are put in place by the government (or by society), NOT the manufacturers* or stores. And those controls are based (ostensibly) on protecting minors from potential self harm (alcohol poisoning, cancer, etc) versus geoblocking's goal of... well whatever it is they think they'll gain by denying people with money access to content.

That said, it isn't unthinkable that there might be local laws that require content blocking; for example if a movie is deemed inappropriate based on a country's laws. But again that is the LAW, not Corporate Policy, and in cases such as those the nature of and reason for the block should be fully disclosed.

*Arguably some of them would very much like to sell their wares to minors (eg: Joe Camel.)

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Silver badge

In both cases, it is unlawful for the store to sell it. You can go into semantics and split hairs on the whys and hows of the moral side of the issue. Their agreements specifically state who they can and cannot sell it to.

By spoofing/VPNing, I guess it could be argued that you're receiving it by deception. You're lying about your eligibility to purchase.

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Childcatcher

I'm not talking about the resellers, they are obviously just fulfilling their contractual obligations as you pointed out. My beef is with the copyright owners/manufacturers who make their resellers sign such ridiculous contracts.

It's 2012 FFS. We have the Internet and we have international trade. There's no particular reason why we all shouldn't be able to buy a copy of Left4Dead or a Blu-Ray movie at roughly the same time for roughly the same price (taxes, etc not withstanding.)

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DN4
Coat

Costs more?

A brig can carry only so many bits...

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there's a serious danger here though

what if I download an mp3 file from the US and it's not designed for Australian conditions?

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: there's a serious danger here though

Don't laugh.

I recently bought an e-book here in Australia. It's sequel is not sold as an e-book in Australia. The third in the series is.

I bought the second in the USA, ON A PLANE using free Wifi access to Amazon.

So yes, it seems some perfectly normal files aren't suitable for Australian use, thanks to the moronic nature of territorial copyright.

It's even worse in NZ, I understand, as it is such a small market publishers can't be arsed prepping stuff to e-publish there.

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Go

Re: there's a serious danger here though

@ Throatwobbler Mangrove

It is a serious public liability issue. You could be listening to the mp3 while walking down the street and suffer a blow-out, which could potentially injure or even kill innocent pedestrians.

Or even worse, what would happen if that illegal, grey-market mp3 corrupted at altitude while on an aeroplane, crippling flight-control systems? Doesn't bear thinking about. Those poor children.

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There are exceptions...

Weirdly, when I priced a Mac Mini in Melbourne and London, it came up cheaper by about 50-70 dollars in Melbourne. I was informed that Apple had done some currency hedging on their prices, and as such had a good exchange rate. Dunno about that, but it was cheaper.

However, as the author points out, EVERYTHING else there is much more expensive, stupidly so it would seem.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: There are exceptions...

> EVERYTHING else there is much more expensive

Check the price on a Mac Air. I think postable things are fairly well matched.

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FAIL

IP spoofing?

Really?

How does that work then?

In fact I checked the Choice article and it doesn't use the word "spoof" at all. It does (correctly) talk about using VPN's to get around GeoIP blocking but that is not the same thing as IP spoofing.

Not even remotely similar.

Does El Reg have minimum standards for IT knowledge or do they just hire graduates from the "introduction to computers" night course from their local TAFE college?

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Re: IP spoofing?

+1

I ran through mental pictures of some UDP service which could be gainfully used by spoofing your source address, but only came up with DDOS applications.

The VPN address is real and not spoofed any more than using your corporate internet connection in a multinational or your own NAT'ed address on your ADSL link.

While I like the idea in principle, I wrote to Bethesda and told them I wouldn't be buying any of their wares, despite the fact I could get family in the UK to purchase and gift it on Steam. There's no downside for a corporation if people use VPNs - they make money on the VPN-purchased items and they make more on the native sales. Why would they bother to stop the gouging?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: IP spoofing?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IP_address_spoofing probably not covered on your TAFE education

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Re: IP spoofing?

Presumably buying through a VPN is the electronic equivalent of buying abroad and bringing it home in your suitcase without declaring it in customs. It's illegal, but it's a tax dodge against you own government rather than a copyright violation against the content owner.

I wonder what the appropriate analogy is when you store the purchased file in a cloud storage striped over three continents and access it through an RDP link to a VM hosted in a fourth. (Probably not viable yet for video, but perfectly viable for books and audio.)

Also, I wonder what our elected leaders will decide the appropriate analogy is.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: IP spoofing?

+1 it'd also be good to have a legal background if you're going to subhead an article with 'legally dodgy'. There's nothing dodgy about using a VPN at all. Legally or otherwise. What you _do_with a vpn, now that's a different matter.

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IT Angle

Re: IP spoofing?

"http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IP_address_spoofing probably not covered on your TAFE education"

Did you even bother to read (and understand) that wikipedia article?

I doubt it, otherwise you wouldn't have made yourself look foolish by posting such nonsense.

Free clue: I didn't say that there was no such thing as IP spoofing, I said it was not the same thing as using a vpn to get around geoip blocking.

You're welcome.

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Unhappy

Digital downloads are even worse

I've had instances on Steam where the US price of a game is almost half that of the Australian store - absolutely ridiculous mark-ups that have put me off purchasing many games. I remember when Borderlands came out a few years ago the Australian price was about $89.99 USD - in the US store it was $49.99 USD. There are no distribution channels to blame, to shipping, and tax is a fraction of the markup. Absolute BS.

More recently I considered purchasing Cyberlink PowerDirector - unfortunately navigating to the US site game me a price some 30-40 dollars lower than the Australian site (but I couldn't buy from there, I'd keep getting redirected - even using hotspot). Again, no explanation, no justification, just "This is what we can get away with charging Aussies now".

Ultimately, if IP spoofing/use of VPNs and other workarounds are made "illegal" I foresee people turning to bittorrent to fulfil their needs - afterall, in the eyes of the consumer, if both methods are illegal, but one of them is free, many will see that as reason enough to choose the free option.

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Re: Digital downloads are even worse

"I've had instances on Steam where the US price of a game is almost half that of the Australian store - absolutely ridiculous mark-ups that have put me off purchasing many games."

Try buying photoshop. Well north of A$1000 out here, U$699 in the US. Both download prices, so there's no additional cost to Adobe, no shipping, Australian wage rates or any of the other bullspit excuses companies use - just price gouging.

Zero problems with my conscience buying a discounted retail version from the US for less than half the price of the Australian download version!

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Warm up the VPN

It's time for Red Dwarf X on my Oz PC.

- Dave

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Dear Big Content

Please take my money in exchange for your product.

What do you mean it's not available in my region.

Ok I'll get it for free of this Bit Torrent site then.

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Just stop to think a moment, peeps.

I'm no fan of these multinationals, but *all* of the ranting above is predicated on the assumption that the *costs* for FruitCo and co are the same whether they are selling in to New York City or Western Australia. There's an inherent economy of scale when addressing a larger and / or denser population; there's obvious differences in distribution costs for physical goods; there's differences in support costs. And then there's less obvious differences - marketing and advertising. For some goods, there might even be a different royalty rate in operation. And finally, if you're trying to operate somewhere where "things are expensive", then these costs will inevitably be passed on to the consumer.

Not to say that they're not gouging where they can, but check your assumptions.

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Re: Just stop to think a moment, peeps.

It's not about shop A being more expensive than shop B, it's shop A charging more for the same product to customers in different areas, shipping is obviously different

How would you like it if you had to pay $1 more for gas in Texas because your number plates said you were from California, I bet you would be swapping number plates before you bought your gas

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Illegal?

IANAL, but is there a legal obligation to disclose your originating IP to all and sundry now? IP geolocation is merely a shortcut that Big Content uses to restrict access to content (often unfairly if you ask me), but that doesn't mean that you have to tell them your IP, does it? If they ask you where you are, and you lie, you may be on shaky grounds. But if they sneakily go and check a more or less accurate database behind your back they lose the right to demand accuracy from your end I would think.

In most advanced juridictions your IP is considered personnal information these days. Using your IP (personnal info) to determine your location without your permission (by checking a blantantly inaccurate database, no less) may fall under "unauthaurized use of personnal information". Actually, it very much should. Not sure what the legislation is like in Oz, but that should fly in the EU.

Agreed, that's pushing it a bit. But criminalizing IP spoofing (and I guess, VPN etc) is pushing it a LOT further.

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RW

Similar to geo-restrictions on retail sales

Amazon has a nasty little habit of announcing "this product cannot be shipped to your default address." I've seen this with athletic gear from Asics and even with CDs made by Sony. Just like Hollywood installing that infernal region code on DVD's and then discovering that if anything, it impedes sales and encourages piracy.

When you live in a country where online commerce is not particularly well developed (e.g Canada), whether Asics or Sony like it or not, all such restrictions do is lead to creative ordering. As for Asics, I simply had what I wanted sent to a friend in Seattle, who then forwarded them to me. And Sony's silly restriction was easily circumvented by finding a Canadian listing for a used copy of my heart's desire.;

it appears that large corporations have not yet learned that the first two W's in "WWW" mean "world-wide." Time to kiss off geographically restricted distribution contracts.

PS: Canada is not a dead loss when it comes to online sales. I was easily able to find an online source for Blooker cocoa in Ontario.

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Bronze badge

Very irritating: the Net is global, not regional!

I do hate attempts to restrict online services by apparent location, as well as attempts to impose laws across borders.

In the ideal world, perhaps a piece of international law could standardise this: a site/business is considered to be in the country it is physically in, regardless of intermediary caching servers, routers, proxies etc. So, The Reg is presumably "in" England: no need for anyone to worry about whether an article complies with Quebec's language laws, Iranian or Saudi religious laws or anything else: wherever readers might be, the site is only subject to the laws of England - and a license to distribute/stream/whatever need only be valid for England, no need for geofencing or anything of the sort. Equally, no more trying to use UK libel laws to shut down criticism in other countries...

If that means "local" TV repeaters who import stuff months late lose out on sales as we all watch on Hulu, so be it: delaying content is NOT adding value, but reducing it! The sooner that business model can die out, the better - and to be fair, it does sound as if Australia's learned this lesson already, starting to broadcast US shows more punctually.

I'd also like a restriction that copyright protection does not apply to products not commercially offered in a region - so, for the delay window between the original broadcast and your local timeshifter getting round to airing it, it's "torrents away" without legal repercussions. Not unprecedented: Canada has a system of "simultaneous substitution", where cable companies have to substitute a Canadian broadcast of content for the US one they would otherwise carry, *IF* the Canadian one is simultaneous - otherwise, the US broadcaster gets the advertising and associated revenue. As you'd expect, this convinced the Canadian channels not to mess around delaying programming!

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