I have a grievance against international media companies. They have a very strange policy of not selling their products in certain geographical regions. There are many services that I would like to subscribe to, but cannot because I am located in Egypt.

For example, I cannot watch content on hulu.com, nor can I download ebooks from Amazon, Apple or Barns & Noble. The same goes for digital music. I cannot buy music from iTunes or Amazon because of my geographical location. I can understand that these companies need to reach agreements with content providers and legal authorities in the countries they sell their products to, but, honestly, how hard can that be?

Also, while I cannot buy ebooks from Amazon, I can buy normal “dead-tree” books. What is the difference between them? Why can I buy one form but not the other? Is there something inherently different about ebooks? The only difference I can see is that if you give someone a digital copy of a book, it would be easier to upload that copy to pirating sites compared to the hassle of scanning a book and then uploading it.

However, peer-to-peer sites are already full of pirated content. This content is there despite the restrictions already in place on digital content. Is this the reason that digital content is restricted in certain parts of the world?

I live in Egypt, and I have to go through a very torturous process before being able to buy digital content legally. Will dedicate a blog post to this some time in the future, but it is sometimes not worth the hassle. By placing these unreasonable restrictions on digital content, companies are driving prospective customers away, or, worse yet, forcing them to resort to piracy to get the content they want.

The incident that prompted this post is the announcement of the new Facebook streaming service described in this article. I was excited when I found out that I could watch movies on one of my favorite social networking websites. When I tried to watch the movie, I was met with the, expected, message that I could not view the content in my geographical location. My message to content providers is: please give us the “privileged” of being able to pay you money to get your content, you are throwing away a revenue stream unnecessarily.


  • Nour, March 9, 2011 @ 6:54 pm Reply

    The same applies to almost all paid-for digital contents not just media.
    For example, I can’t download many arcade games for my XboX 360 due to
    my geographical location. I used to listen to my favorite radio channels on AOL online radio (btw, it’s a free service ) but now I can’t due to my geographical location which made me think “The service was already running perfectly for me”…… then why stopping it ???! providing it in the first place means it’s not a technical issue ( latency, etc… ) nor a copyright issue !!!

    Not to mention “Paypal”….. it’s really painful to buy stuff off the internet now that everyone started using Paypal, why doesn’t it support Egypt ?!?! I mean Paypal already supports UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, etc…. I want to be able to use my Credit Card ( Issued In Egypt ) and be able to buy stuffs off the internet using Paypal…

    • Neotheone1981, March 10, 2011 @ 11:37 am Reply

      Exactly! Its not like we are asking for free content, we are asking for the ability to pay for their products. For ad supported services like online radio, I am sure they would be able to work something out with local companies. They just don’t seem to want to make the effort.

      • Nour, March 10, 2011 @ 12:48 pm Reply

        Yeah, I’ve kept thinking for so long about “who should take the initiative ?!” to make such services available to us ?!?

        Should the stakeholders/concerned parties here in Egypt take such an initiative ?!, or is it the service-providing company itself that should take the initiative ?!

        I’ve been told once from a “Microsoft(c) Egypt” representative that Microsoft’s Entertainment Department considered the Egyptian market to officially launch their XboX 360 and its accompanying services such as XboX Live, but due to the crazy customs/duties here in Egypt, the consumers were to get the XboX 360 for 160% of its original price which doesn’t make any sense !!!
        Customs/Duties are meant to protect LOCAL products during their “Growing Phase” from the foreign COMPETING products
        Why imposing customs on items/products that aren’t even produced locally ??!?!?!?

        I think Investors/foreign companies don’t feel safe enough to establish their services in Egypt, maybe if the justice system was more independent they would feel safer, because you know they might be thinking “if the juridical system is not independent and a trouble concerning the company arises, the juridical system will just judge against them whatever was the case !!!”

        Hope things will change in the future !!!

        • Neotheone1981, March 10, 2011 @ 5:26 pm Reply

          I hope so too.

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