The ongoing copyright arms race between content owners and internet users has taken a new turn. Israeli firm Hola! has recently launched a suite of products that are variously designed to bypass geoblocking and accelerate internet-access speeds.
Hola! is the brainchild of entrepreneurs Derry Shribman and Ofer Vilenski. They have set out to fundamentally change the way the world wide web operates by creating software which makes the web more efficient and harder to censor.
Hola! is comprised of several products:
- Browser extensions which work on Windows and Mac with Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. These plugins only bypass geoblocking.
- Client software for Windows which functions as web accelerator, geoblock bypass, and censorship bypass service.
- An Android app which operates as a web accelerator only.
BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Netflix … and VPNs
But circumvention of these geoblocks is commonplace with the use of a Virtual Private Network (VPN) or proxy server. During the London Olympics the media was awash with stories of people using these methods to access the BBC’s online coverage of the Games.
These VPNs and proxy systems are either subscription services, or they operate on a freemium model where a limited or ad-supported version of the product or service is given away in the hope of selling consumers a “full” version of the product.
VPNs were designed as a way of securely connecting a remote computer to a corporate network, and using a VPN is a rather clumsy method to access multimedia content. All traffic is routed through the VPN which may limit access to other services, and the VPN needs to be connected and disconnected to various servers to access content in different countries.
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