Yesterday evening I wrote a post expressing my more than mild irritation at bloggers who insist in embedding the Hulu player in their posts. My point was that while this might be really cool for readers of the blog who life in the US for the rest of the world it was enough of a turn off to skip right on past – not even taking time to read what might actually have been a great post. Needless to say the response to the post was quite varied but interesting enough that I want to take a look at this whole geotarding thing.
For those not familar with the term geotard is one of those made up words that the Internet is famous for coming up with. In essence the word and it’s meaning can be broken down down like this:
- geo – geographical area
- tard – a fucking stupid idea
When combined it means locking out potential users of your web service because their geographical location conflicts with licensing and copyright agreements. One of the first web services to come up against this was probably Pandora and most recently the NBC owned Hulu. While Pandora being geotarded was dues to the music industry in countries around the world wanting exorbitant licensing fees Hulu is being geotarded because of broadcasting agreements between countries.
Following that post comments on both sides of the issue were made both here and on FriendFeed and it was those comments that really sparked this post. There were those of course who said that none of the current situation was the fault of Hulu. From the FriendFeed comments on the post we get things like this from Steve Isaacs
Too harsh and vague. Hulu does a great value exchange of content and compensation. That’s a great start, and the legalities of international copyright law aren’t exactly Hulu’s fault.
Or from Soulhuntre who also was on the Hulu defense team
Hulu does a really good job. The video looks great, the selection is good and the biz model isn’t really to intrusive. Region locking content is unpopular to be sure – but it isn’t going to change anytime soon. -
And from Robert Seidman we get this
Hmm. Jeff makes a good point. I don’t have a problem with Hulu or any site geo blocking. this is a licensing rights issue with distribution rights. About 85% of our traffic is from the USA. I don’t embed Hulu often, but will continue to do so as long as the % are stacked as they are. but I will start adding an apologetic disclaimer for folks outside the US.
This idea of distribution and visitor ratio was carried over to the comments on the blog when Ross suggested that it was a broadcast problem more than anything else. Along with that he also said considering where most blog traffic comes from he understands why they embed Hulu
I don’t know what your site metrics look like, but for mine the % of Site Total = 49.77% US (using Aug 08 to date). I had more visitors from California than I did Canada (or the UK). I don’t blame people for embedding Hulu vidoes, most English language site visitors are from the US.. Unless of course your site is geo-specific like a blog about Toronto etc.
While on the one hand Ross maybe right the fact is that the 49.77% of American visitors does not equal all the visitors to a blog. This point was made by Justsomedude in his reply to Ross
Another way to look at your site metrics: 50.23% of your visitors are from outsite the US. If you’re posting a Hulu video or any other geolimited stuff, you’re risking pissing off over half your audience.
My whole point is that I can understand why services are geotarded but that doesn’t mean it is right or that we should support services that are geotarded. By using them we for all intents and purposes are telling these companies that it is okay to cut off a large portion of your potential customer base. As nice as it might be to think that you might be doing something cool in a post for your readers bloggers need to really start remembering that their readers are from around the world not just from behind some geotard fence.
The other thing as well is that this idea of geotarding services seems to be a totally arbitrary situation. A good example of this is Last.fm which it totally accessible via the web browser from anywhere in the world and yet is geotarded on the iPhone to only US customers. Now explain to me the logic of that because as far as I can tell there is none.