This is a follow-up entry to a previous entry in which I wrote about the relationship between family language learning and Easy Hide IP, a proxy server software that allows one to project a “false” geographic location onto the Internet.
One of the great things about the internet age is there is a lot of multilingual multimedia content available to tap in the pursuit of learning, practicing and living a language other than one that’s dominant where you are stuck geographically — as long as the “other” language you’re talking about is fortunate enough to have sufficient political, economic and technological might behind it, as is clearly the case with German, the “other” language in our multilingual family here in the USA.
But, as I noted in my previous entry, the “international” internet isn’t always as international as it might appear. Material national borders have been replicated on the internet to keep people who are in the “wrong” physical location from accessing certain content.
As pervasive and frustrating as these borders are, there are often ways around them.
In my previous entry, I noted I was working to access German Video On Demand (VOD) sites such as Maxdome.de so that I could stream German-language movies, primarily Hollywood movies dubbed into German, to my two daughters, 6 and 8, who we are raising as German-English bilinguals in the United States.
At that point, back in November, I’d located a Windows-based VPN software, Easy Hide IP, which allows one to project a “false” IP address onto the internet and make it seem as if you are actually sitting in front of a computer in Germany when you are really in the USA.
This is necessary to access much cultural content on the Internet because of licensing agreements between entertainment sites such as Maxdome.de and cultural producers and distributors. These agreements are typically written such that Maxdome pays a certain amount for the rights to distribute a particular cultural item to viewers located in only in particular geographic places, in this case, Germany.
Distribution rights linked to national borders
In theory, Maxdome could pay more for the rights to distribute content via its web site to viewers beyond Germany’s borders. However, it has chosen not to do so, most likely because it’s not in its economic interests: The number of people outside of Germany who will pay to watch, say, Shrek 2 dubbed into German is likely to be small.
Basically, capitalist market logic constructed upon national lines is standing between me and the originally-in-English-but-dubbed-into-German filmic I want to stream to my kids.
But, to return to my story – sorry, the background on cultural content and national borders on the Internet is complex 😉 — although I was able to project a fake German IP address onto the internet and trick Maxdome.de into thinking I am in Germany, the big stumbling block was the fact that in order to pay for access to Maxdome.de content I am required to have a credit card officially linked to a real physical address in Germany.
By accident, I discovered what is probably a temporary hole in the Maxdome.de national border wall: Maxdome.de’s new Android version sign-up and credit card payment page does not require you to enter a German address. I discovered this when surfing Maxdome.de with our new Google Nexus 10 tablet.
Maxdome.de doesn’t yet stream video via the Android version of its site. But that’s not a problem. Now that I’ve been able to pay for a Maxdome.de subscription, we’re using our MacBookPro, along with a VPN software called NetShade, which, like Easy Hide IP, for a nominal fee, projects a German IP address onto the Internet for us, to stream Maxdome.de VOD content to our home here in Aurora, Colo.
Entrenched market logic
Is this legal?
I’m not sure. And, frankly, I don’t care. Maxdome.de is getting its money from us, as are the Hollywood studios/producers for films such as Shrek 2 — dubbed into German for our viewing, and German-language learning, pleasure 😉
To me, this seems like a much preferable scenario for these culture industry players than, say, if I went to a site such as movie2k.to — according to Alexa.Com, regularly one of the top 20 most visited sites on the internet by German internet users — and streamed pirated versions of various Hollywood movies dubbed into German to my kids.
This all seems like a lot of trouble to have to go through simply to help one’s kids practice their German, doesn’t it? Yet, unfortunately this is the world in which we currently live: One, which in many respects, continues to be very much constructed, and limited, along national lines.
I hope this changes some day so that we might live in the truly international world many global capitalist cheerleaders claim is already here, but which clearly, in many respects, does not yet exist. Of course, given the power of entrenched market logic and its surprisingly stubborn links to nationally determined cultural content access and copyright practices, I’m not holding my breath.