General Question

Scrumpulator's avatar

This is a werd one: I just installed a VPN from my school, now I can accss American Sites that don't have licencing rights out side the States?

Asked by Scrumpulator (564points) August 3rd, 2008

Virtual Private Network, This allows my IP address which is Italian to appear American, This allows me to access sites like ABC and Adult Swim to watch content that is not allowed outside the states, my question is HOW CAN THIS BE LEGAL?

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12 Answers

Scrumpulator's avatar

Shouldn’t Time Warner network have a fit over this?

Lovelocke's avatar

VPN software’s mainly in place so you can access your work/school’s info from anywhere globally, while keeping intruders out of your data.

Additionally, while connected to your VPN you show up (to the Internet) wherever the VPN originates from.

winblowzxp's avatar

That’s about it… I’d be careful, though…there’s no telling how much trouble you’d get into from your government.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

Where is your school located?

Scrumpulator's avatar

Portland OR, I’m American, I got sick of not watching Cartoon Network and Lost online and called my schools techno geeks. They gave me this software, but I don’t use it to access the school though

winblowzxp's avatar

If you’re connecting using software the school’s techno geeks gave you, then you’re connecting to the school’s vpn. Whether or not you access the school’s intranet, you’re still accessing the school through the vpn and using their resources.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

That’s exactly what VPN does, it makes the rest of the internet think you’re at school. If you didn’t have access to U.S. content, something would be wrong. The way it works is the school pays to have access to certain content (for example, mine is a subscriber to the OED), and as a student you have the right to view this. VPN is the way you do that. I don’t know what the ramifications are, but I don’t think it’s illegal for you to use your VPN to access other sites. It’s just not what it’s intended for.

simon's avatar

I’d check the license agreement, often software like this is not exportable and what you are doing could be in violation of your license and then illegal.

winblowzxp's avatar

Not only that, but they could expel you from school for that, if they deem it necessary.

riskable's avatar

Here’s a better question: “How can this NOT be legal?” The only thing you’re circumventing is an artificial barrier setup by various American websites for no other reason than making money.

Here’s how it works: A company like ABC sells their content to foreign distributors who wouldn’t appreciate it if people in their local markets could get the same content for free over the Internet. The fact that you can bypass their artificial restrictions in such a trivial fashion only represents a flaw in their business model—there’s nothing wrong, illegal, or even unethical in your actions.

There are various situations where laws could be broken related to your VPN access but they’re on the provider’s side—not yours. For example, strong encryption is considered to be munitions by the U.S. government so if your school was distributing VPN client software to one of the embargoed countries (Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria) your school could get in trouble. You, on the other hand, have nothing to worry about.

I should also note that you might be violating various policies of certain websites and applications by accessing them through a VPN but in reality these are A) unenforceable and B) carry no weight in law (if you didn’t sign it they can’t hold you accountable to it). For reference, clicking “I agree” on a website is the equivalent of signing a contract but you must consider two things whenever you do that

1) The penalty: If the punishment for viewing, say, a TV show on outside of the U.S. is something like, “We reserve the right to restrict your access to this content” then, well, I think the problem with this is obvious :)

2) Not everything written down in a contract is enforceable. You can sign a contract to kill someone but that doesn’t make it legal.

Finally, I’d like to add the following:

1) While using the VPN you’re pretty much anonymous or at best incredibly difficult to identify.
2) Millions of people use VPNs every day many of which do so for the sole purpose of being anonymous and/or circumventing location restrictions. Nothing ever comes of it and for reference, the right to anonymous communications is protected by law in the U.S. (but it is up to you to remain anonymous).
3) Any restriction you’d circumvent by using a VPN is a pipe dream anyway.

“It is a truism that almost any business or industry cartel will legislate more profit into law if it acquires the power to do so, and will follow it by attempting to keep influence over the politicians that passed it, attacking those against it, and attempting to improve upon the previous legislation with even more profitable laws.”

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