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Using Tor to Circumvent Country Origin Restrictions

February 27, 2014

GEMA blocked content Sometimes you come across online content that is restricted to viewing only by clients coming from an IP address in a specific country. One such example might be live-streamed sports events such as the Olympic Games, which are available in one country, but restricted in another country where a different TV station has bought the exclusive broadcast rights.

Some countries also have certain restrictions based on copyrighted music not having been licensed by the local "performance rights organization", going as far as blocking videos where music is playing in the background.

There are many ways to work around such restrictions. One such solution is the use of Tor, which I've used on-again-off-again for many years now. Recently, I've found that using Tor for day-to-day browsing has actually become entirely usable, and even streaming media is no longer an exercise in futility.

To specify the desired country to exit out of Tor, you need to update your torrc configuration file. On Mac OS X, that is found in the folder, wherever you may have it installed. Just append the following two lines:

$ cat >> ~/Library/Application\ Support/TorBrowser-Data/Tor/torrc <EOF
ExitNodes {CC}
StrictNodes 1

Replace CC with the country code where you want to exit. For example, you might use DE if you are in the US and wanted to watch the live stream of the Olympic Games broadcast by a German TV station instead of waiting several hours for a time-delayed and butchered cut on TV; you'd set it to US if you are in Germany and wish to access content that GEMA doesn't want you to see (such as, ridiculously, the live stream of a conference on trusted computing).

I expect to make good use of this later this year...

February 27, 2014

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