Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Watching US TV programs overseas the legal way

I have been living in Japan for 15 years and even though I love the Japanese culture and spend time each day studying Japanese I still like to watch the occasional US TV show. I do not like to download shows illegally so I used to get many of my shows via iTunes until some of my favorite shows such as The Office disappeared from their catalog.

I thought all was lost until I found out that many US TV companies provide their shows for free on their web sites or through sites like www.hulu.com. But alas all was not well as the TV companies only provide content to US IP addresses.

Enter the world of VPN. I have know about VPN technology for some time as I work in the IT field but it was only recently that I learned of companies providing VPN services to the general public. For those of you not in the know VPN stands for Virtual Private Network as it basically allows 2 computers to set up a secure channel of communcation. Most VPNs are from a client computer to a VPN server. Companies use VPNs to allow their workers to access the corporate network from home on on the rode. When a user connects their computer to the VPN their computer gets an IP address from the corporate network and can access resources just like they were in the office.

There are now Internet based companies that provide VPN service to protect personal computer communications at public wireless access points. When ever you connect a computer to a public wireless access point such as at an airport, much of the traffic is sent in the clear including usernames and passwords. By using a VPN users can encrypt their Internet traffic and protect their information from hackers that are listening in to the wireless traffic. Many of these companies are US based and provide US IP addresses to their customers.

Now to how this helps me. By loading the VPN software and paying my annual fee I can create a VPN connection via my ISP in Japan and get a US IP address for all of my Internet traffic. Now when I go to a site that provides legal free TV content to US customers the videos will play.

The VPN company I use is www.witopia.net. Check them out and give it a try.

1 comment:

Jen said...

Thank you for the tip. I'm planning a trip and was wondering how to access US sites from overseas.