Territorial rights and the Internet: "This Painting is Not Available in Your Country"

Paul Mutant's "This Painting is Not Available in Your Country" is a pretty snappy and trenchant commentary on the incoherent absurdity of territorial rights enforcement in the age of the Internet.

"This Painting is Not Available in Your Country" (via JWZ)


  1. I can SO relate to this frustration. I live in South Africa and listen to YouTube videos while I work, so it’s really irksome to have 20% of them unavailable (I’m looking at you, EMI).

  2. Any bets on how long before some misguided lawfirm contacts him to find out how he did it so they can protect their clients rights?

  3. It isn’t incoherent– different countries have different laws & values regarding copyright, & different treaties regulating how those things interact. I wish all the copyrights synched up to, but unfortunately, national sovereignty is a real thing we have to respect.

    1. It sure feels incoherent at ground level. For example, why is it that I can buy DVDs of UK TV shows where I live in Europe, but can’t use streaming services to watch them online? And is it illegal to get around such limitations the way numcrun does? If so, in which country? Do these barriers square with the principles of the common market? How is that similar or different from watching dvds out of zone on my computer? And how does my liability change when I travel? I’m sure there are answers to these questions, but even for an informed layman, it doesn’t make much sense.

    2. This isn’t about national standards or copyright laws per se. Hulu could let viewers all over the world watch American TV shows if they weren’t concerned about syndication deals. There is no law that required region encoding of DVDs.

      This is the content creators’ doing. It is them who have to get their act together.

    3. So you’ve validated whether this phenomenon proceeds according to the laws of copyright and thus declared it coherent: but you have failed to ask yourself whether the laws themselves are coherent. Considering that they produce insane results when followed to the letter, I would say that it’s the laws themselves that are incoherent: exactly the ones you’ve pointed out.

    4. no, it absolutely is incoherent. when videos by canadian bands are blocked in CANADA, it makes absolutely no sense.

  4. I live in Poland. The iTunes music store doesn’t operate here, nor does Spotify, nor does 7 Digital, nor does Lovefilm or any of its equals. I understand that music/film entertainment companies or their umbrella orgs need to work out distribution and other deals …so, work them out for gods sakes. No one involved in those asinine negotiations seems to want to budge an inch which means I lie a LOT about where I live (thank the gods for IPREDator) in order to PAY for music and films.

  5. I tried getting PayPal to understand that I live, work and play in five countries…
    To paraphrase one of their credit-card pals: Useless!

  6. I think a big reason they block outside the U.S. is bandwidth. Of course there is some copyright issues but I consider the fact that in the U.S. you pay for bandwidth and its a good way to reduce cost.

    1. Oh, you think that bandwidth is paid for only in the US? I don’t know of any country where you can get bandwidth for free…
      (Try South Africa, they actually ration you to a set limit per month).

  7. >I wish all the copyrights synched up

    Unfortunately they tend to sync to the most restrictive…

    A big part of solving copyright would be to have Disney go bankrupt, then we could have some things after Steamboat Willie enter the public domain…

  8. Fortunately the internet also treats poor business models as damage and routes around them.

    1. I don’t find this comforting any more. You can make a lot of money as a price-setter with government protection.

  9. I don’t know that a painting is a good example to illustrate modern absurdity – traditional paintings are unique objects and so by definition are only ever available in one place at any one time. The actual Mona Lisa is still only available in one specific location in France.

    1. “…traditional paintings are unique objects and so by definition are only ever available in one place at any one time.”

      And yet here it is, on the interwebs making a valid point. And other people see the point -it’s a fine example of art as a mirror to society.

      As a Canadian I find this practice to be particularly egregious. IE: Comedy Central in the US, and The Comedy Network in Canada play this game. Work it out you greedy bastards, all we want is to click on a link and watch the video, it matters not what computer it’s streaming from, or who owns what.

    2. its make a good statement, i think the equivalent would be paint something and then have geoblocking webpage that only shows that painting to certain countries. i wonder if he could register a painting with a company that does that sort of thing in order to make it happen.

  10. Oh, I love this!

    I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been annoyed because I want to watch a video on YouTube and VeVo tells me “not available in your country”!

    I’ve asked them multiple times why they care if I watch it, when they don’t want to sell it to me? (I’m an American with a penchant for British music that never seems to be released in North America.) No response yet.

  11. If it’s not available on youtube, usually someone has reposted it on one of the multitude of other streaming video sites available. If you can’t get it at one of those, it’s time to knuckle down and either bypass the lockout (maybe with a VPN, I use hotspot shield, it’s free), pirate it, or god forbid, pay for your entertainment.

    I’m in Canada. When music videos aren’t available to stream, they can often be purchased on iTunes.

    It can be a challenge to find what you want on the internet, but that challenge can be enjoyable and a creative endeavour in itself. I don’t find myself sharing Cory’s viewpoint that copyright holders should make every piece of information available everywhere all the time. Copyright holders have just as much a right to decline to provide access to their products. Expressions of rights do not always have to be logical.

    At the same time, the internet gives us the ability to sidestep those rights. So I really don’t see what the big deal is.

    And oh yeah, cool painting.

  12. Paint the actual painting on the back. Provide a list of countries where they are allowed to turn it around.

  13. If it is sold one place it needs to be sold everywhere else at the same time. How much is charged can vary but releasing stuff in a specific country without offering the same version elsewhere more or less invites people to get around the restrictions (VPNs) or to pirate it.

    It’s been pounded into us for years – pay for it! – now we want to.

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