Victory in battle to stream German content to USA

Maxodome

Maxdome

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.

 

Author Christof Demont-Heinrich

A lifelong interest in language and writing motivated in large part by a desire to learn my father's mother tongue, German, has played a large role in my professional and educational trajectory. I spent my junior year of college studying in Freiburg, Germany. After graduating from Allegheny College with a B.A. in German, I worked as a print journalist for eight years in the Boston area. I moved to Colorado in August of 1996 so that I could attend Colorado State University where I earned an M.A. in English (1998). After a couple years of working as an adjunct faculty member at CSU and the University of Northern Colorado, I began a Ph.D. program at the University of Colorado, Boulder School of Journalism and Mass Communication in the fall of 2000. I completed my dissertation in December of 2005. I started a tenure-track position at the University of Denver in the fall of 2005 where I am now an Associate Professor in the Department of Media, Film & Journalism Studies. My general research interests are in linguistic and cultural dimensions of globalization, transnational and national identity, and the relation between media discourse and hegemony.

More posts by Christof Demont-Heinrich
  • Khan

    Thanks Professor Christof
    I am often very skeptical about the argument of the demise of national boarders. In stead, I argue that the perception that neo-liberal market forces has the potential to erode the national forces has actually led to more coordinated effort from nationalistic forces.

    I also wonder at the meanings of ‘ international’. In many ways, they are new ways of representing natioanlism.

    Khan

    • Khan,
      I agree with you in terms of the attempts, often, though not always successful, on the part of various social and economic and political actors/players to reinforce national borders on the Internet. I do think that especially in terms of online activism, though, there has been substantial progress — although it is clear that far more is needed — in terms of the emergence of a truly international social space on via the Internet.

  • heidi ellis

    Hello, I found your blog post while fishing around for a way to stream German movies. Though we now live in Louisville (howdy, neighbor!) we lived for three years in Düsseldorf and I’m always trying to find ways for my kids to keep up their German. I see that this post is over a year old, and I wonder if you’ve found any new ways to stream German films and TV shows? The rules and technology are changing so quickly that I figure one of these days you’ll just be able to get a lovefilm membership or maybe access the netflix.de films here in the US… but until then I’d rather not reinvent the wheel if you’ve found something that works.
    Thanks,
    -heidi

  • David Maltby

    Christof, I too have wanted me and my children to have exposure to German content to keep up and improve our fluency. About 1 1/2 year ago I was watching Netflix.de using a VPN. That was blocked maybe 6 months ago. Then 2 months ago, I tried a free one month trial with Amazon.de prime using a VPN. Although I already had an American Amazon Prime account, apparently that wasn’t the same as a German Amazon Prime account. After the trial expired, I was willing to buy the year subscription of German Prime (~ $55 US), taking the chance that it might be blocked eventually. Anyhow, today, I noticed that at least using Hola’s VPN, doesn’t work anymore. I’m happy to pay for a VoD service, but unless I know that it contains popular cultural content, I don’t believe that I can get my kids to continue their interest in watching. Are you still able to stream Video on Demand services for current German content? If so, can you let me know what method that you are using? Thanks!