The Internet has grown immensely as a source for favorite television shows. Much of this growth is due to the underground BitTorrent scene, where users can download and share entire seasons of both current and classic television shows. However, downloading copyrighted material often violates several copyright infringement bills – most notably the US-based Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). For the non tech-saavy and for those who do not wish to break the law, there are several network-based websites where viewers can legally watch the latest television shows, such as ABC’s Full Episodes website. Also, single TV shows like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report stream clips or full episodes on demand.
Unfortunately, many of these shows are only available in the USA and only in some cases are the same programs available in other countries via alternative webistes. Similarly, the BBC does not allow its streaming video to be accessed outside the U.K. Even cyberspace can’t escape complicated licensing schemes, it seems.
Typically the response has been to resort to BitTorrent but there is a faster and slightly (though not necessarily entirely) more legal alternative.
Make sure Firefox Web Browser is installed (version 1.0 – 3.6 acceptable)
Installing Modify Headers Plug-in
Open a new FireFox window and surf to the following URL:
Click on Add to Firefox
Click on Accept and Install
If a software installation window pops up then click on the Install Now button
Wait for the plugin installation to complete. Click on the Restart Firefox button
Using the Modified Headers Plugin to View Geographically-Blocked Video
Surf to the web page with the blocked video
On the menu, select Tools –> Modify Headers
If you are running the Modify Headers plug-in for the first time, enter the following text in the two text boxes at the top of the pop-up window:
First text box: X-Forwarded-For
Second text box: 188.8.131.52
Leave the third text box blank. Click on the Add button
Ensure that there is a green dot next to the new header (signaling it is active)
LEAVE THE MODIFY HEADERS WINDOW OPEN
(alternatively, you could click on the Configuration and make sure Always On is checked; this way, the plugin is always active)
Refresh the Firefox window containing the blocked media. The video should (hopefully) start to play properly.
Regards to Andy Mason, who created the original YouTube tutorial.
How Well does it Work?
The Modify Headers plug in is one of many methods that can be used to view geographically-blocked video. Modifying headers does not mask a user’s actual geographical origin and defeating this hack is mostly up to the developers on the streaming media servers. No one workaround is perfect and readers are encouraged to post their experiences using this workaround on various streaming sites (don’t forget to include your country). The following tests were conducted in Canada –
- The Daily Show – Works like a charm. This show was used to develop both the original YouTube tutorial (tested in the UK) and this blog post
- Hulu – Sends a strange message advising to check internet stream. It is a different message than the typical geographic restriction, so it might be related to my firewall.
- Pandora – Does not work. Redirects to the same restriction notice.
- ABC Full Episodes – Works
- CBS HD Videos – Does not work