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MAIL OPINION  By Shana Kongmun


Must we be pirates?

There is a strong drive from the U.S. Consulate here in Chiang Mai and indeed in Thailand to fight for intellectual property rights. And how can anyone really argue with this cause? Artists and creators should be rewarded for their efforts. People who put in the time, money and creativity to create something wonderful deserve to be acknowledged and yes, paid.

So, with that in mind, I wanted to buy a song off of Amazon. I have a U.S. credit card, I even have an Amazon account. Previously I had been allowed to purchase and download MP3’s off of Amazon, even while in Thailand, but it would seem, that is no longer the case. So, they don’t want me to purchase music legally simply because I am overseas? Well, next time I want to buy a song, it won’t be from Amazon, even if I am in the U.S.

I also realize that certain television channels will not allow streaming TV overseas, the BBC being one of them as well as many American ones, Canadian, Australian and the video site Hulu, all block viewers based on their geo-location. There is even a term for it, geo-blocking and it blocks viewers who are not located in the source country from watching shows from their official websites on their computers.

Geo-blocking can be used for various reasons and not all of them have to do with licensing, but blocking content that may be illegal in other jurisdictions. Online gambling is one example of this. However, most geo-blocking is done because of licensing and payments made for those broadcast licenses and the desire, perhaps, to sell the license to broadcast that show overseas.

It seems that broadcasters need to learn to progress as the internet has progressed and to market their content with online advertising exactly to those people they are now blocking. Once content becomes readily available they might just find that illegal downloads will decrease. Being able to buy readily available music or TV shows for reasonable prices and download or stream them in any country would certainly make a dent in it, I would think.

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Must we be pirates?