Copyright law is one of those flaky things that seems to change every minute, from country to country. For example if you’re in Canada and want to watch a US TV show live on television, the Canadian equivalent of the FCC, an entity called CRTC which is designed more to protect big businesses than to protect any Canadian culture that might exist, forces you to watch it on a Canadian channel.
Why? Some might ask.
There is more than one answer to that question. Initially, it was because Canada wanted to protect its culture from being completely overrun by the American culture, they wanted to promote locally produced shows with locally harvested actors and scripts. Initially this worked properly for a while, we had comedy sketch shows like Kids in the Hall, The Red Green Show, and a handful of Canadian sitcoms like The Littlest Hobo and Excuse my French.
My favorite Canadian show, except for any hockey game is of course That’s So Weird, a show I recommend if you like absurd sketch parodies.
This protectionism is supposedly true for a lot of other countries like Australia and Great Britain however I don’t see how German, Italian or Belgian TV could be threatened by American TV shows as they’d have to be translated or at least subtitled for broadcast, which would generate local jobs and at the very least add a local flavour like in this (hilarious) Star Trek TOS clip as translated for Italian television.
More recently though, it seems the CRTC is protecting Canadian advertisers rather than Canadian culture and this seems to be true for all the other countries as well. Global television for instance plays American TV shows every night but naturally throws in its own Canadian commercials and this would be fine by me if it were possible to watch their TV broadcast from anywhere and for free.
An ATSC antenna might do the job if you live within a few kilometers of an urban city, however in my specific case, although I’m in proximity of a large city, ATSC signals barely make it because I’m on the back side of a small mountain. With the mountain’s protection, I receive 6 channels, 4 of which are in French and the last is the Canadian CBC, great for watching Hockey Night in Canada which about sums up their interesting content, well except for the news.
My only alternative for years has been to subscribe to an expensive and unreliable satellite TV service, or more reliable but less complete cable service.
Recently however Netflix has become available which allows us to watch what we want, when we want on our broadband Internet connection. The problem with the Canadian version of Netflix is that the content offered is appalingly slim compared to the US content and so a friend of mine told me to take a look at a DNS service like UnoDNS, also known as UnoTelly, assuring me that this is perfectly legal.
UnoDNS allows users to access paid or free online content that is normally restricted to one specific country, from almost any country in the world.
Incredibly, it works. Sure it’s a pay service which costs about 6$/month for the Gold package but what it allows you to do is impressive. After changing the DNS servers on the HTPC and clicking on the Update IP button on their webpage, my eyes were opened. I suddently had access to foreign sites that had previously been blocked. Sites like Hulu or the major US TV network sites, which allow you to watch some of their sitcoms online for free, in exchange for some commercial advertisements. By changing the DNS I could tweak my PC and all of a sudden I had access to sites from the UK, Australia, Italy, France, Germany and more.
Speed test and reliability
Unlike VPN services that have the potential to slow down your network traffic, a DNS service shouldn’t slow down your connection at all, and it doesn’t.
As you can see in the screenshot I’ve taken, even through the DNS service, my full 30Mbit speed is available. The service has also been rock steady when used properly and from home, it has however been hit or miss with mobile devices when using an external network such as a restaurant or hotel’s free wi-fi as they sometimes will refuse a static IP setup, which is required for the service to work.
What’s really cool is that when using a DNS service, all the PCs on your local network still see one another, unlike when using a VPN where the PCs only sees the external IP address, thus preventing it from “seeing” any local media server you might have setup.
Is it legal?
I was assured by legal specialists that it is, since it allows you to access a service for which you pay. However they’ve also warned me that accessing any service that doesn’t offer roaming capabilities (like Hulu+ for instance) and that requires an actual US billing address, might not be legal as you’d have to provide them with a fake billing address which is of course not only illegal but also beyond the scope of this article.
Is it complicated to setup?
Nope. If you know how to read basic English instructions assisted by screenshots, you should be able to set it up.
UnoTelly provides a valuable service quite reliably, and for a cheap price, for those reasons it earns the score of 8.5/10.