Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/10/25/choice_urges_vpns_for_australians/

Consumer group urges Aussies to spoof IP addresses

Legally dodgy, but great for the hip pocket given down under price premium

By Simon Sharwood

Posted in Policy, 25th October 2012 21:34 GMT

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 “The legality of circumventing geo-blocking is a grey area” as “Some copyright experts claim those who promote devices or programs that encourage people to infringe copyright are breaking the law.”

It's also a politically bold stance to take, given that the article mentions Hulu as a service Australians can access once their true IP address is masked. Local television stations are now making a big deal about fast-tracking hit shows, to stop local use of VPNs and/or 'Channel BT'. For a consumer group to urge consumers into legally murky positions for the sake of convenience alone is therefore notable.

Australia is also already conducting a parliamentary inquiry into why tech goodies and content cost more in down under than in other nations. CHOICE puts those markups at “50% more for PC games, 34% more for software, 52% more for iTunes music, 41% more for computer hardware and a huge 88% more for Wii games.”

The practice continues: we recently noted that Microsoft's Surface costs more here at Vulture South than it does in the USA. Microsoft told us that's because of local regulations and taxes, but declined to say just which regulations or taxes are the cause of the AUD$25+ price discrepancies for the new typoslab.

Of course this week's week's Kindle-erasure shenanigans may also give Australians pause before they follow the article's advice.

And lurking beneath this debate are the ongoing deliberations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, a treaty that Big Content is working hard to shape in ways that could well make IP spoofing and other such manoeuvres rather harder to do with any legitimacy. ®