Accessing Blocked Content in France

Like many websites particularly those in the media sector, the French TV site M6 Replay is only accessible from domestic connections.  If you access from inside France then you’ll have no problem at all but if you are in a different country and try to access M6 Replay then you’ll get blocked from most of the video streams.

These sites often block access or filter their content for a variety of reasons.  Much of it is to do with copyright issues, that their programmes are only licensed for a specific country or region.   Other reasons are usually focused on maximizing profit by selling broadcasting rights separately to other organisations or media companies.    If you access any media site in any country you’ll normally find that the functionality is restricted primarily to it’s home market.

The method for enforcing these restrictions are however usually very similar and involve determining the location of the connection.   This is normally done by looking up the IP address of the incoming connection and looking up the country of origin.   These can be determined from vast databases which map all registered IP addresses to their corresponding countries.  So a connection from Canada would be mapped to a Canadian IP address and so on.

This is the standard method for controlling, filtering and restricting access – often known as geotargeting or geoblocking.   It means that in order to bypass these blocks and gain access to these sites irrespective of your actual location then you need to gain some control of your IP address.    Unfortunately it’s not actually possible to change your address as this is allocated directly from the ISP where connect to the internet.  These are always locked to the specific country, so you’ll get the address based on the country you’re connecting from.

There is a method though which can unlock any website irrespective of your location – here’s a demonstration:

As you can see the way to bypass these checks is to hide your real IP address by using an intermediate server to route the connection. So to access the M6 Replay site from outside France you need to relay your connection through a French proxy server.

As long as the server is configured properly then the website will only see the IP address of the proxy server and not the actual client. Developments in this areas have included the use of VPN (Virtual private Networks) which are even more difficult to detect than proxies. Furthermore the VPN connection is encrypted so it’s more secure than using a simple proxy server.

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