>>> John Casey <[log in to unmask]> 05/06/2006 13:34:46 >>>
I have a request for some help and advice about the technical
feasibility of blocking access to online materials via geographic
If the materials are on an open website then you can restrict access by domain (.ac.uk, .edu, etc). So if, say, you wanted to restrict access to users in the UK, you could decide to restrict access to just hosts in the .uk domain. The trouble then is that many users in the UK will be coming in from .com (eg NTL users at home) or .net. Basically, you can't AFAIK reliably restrict access by incoming domain as many domains are not geographically-specific. There's also the issue of tunnelling, as Peter Nix pointed out, not to mention caches.
I sit ready to be corrected, but I think that to restrict access reliably you'll have to use authentication. If you're lucky you can use a pre-existing authentication system, such as Athens, otherwise you'll have to have user self-registration or manually administer users, which is a real PITA.
What I am particularly interested in is if a UK institution offeres
courses to international students via a VLE and perhaps a VPN and that
perhaps one country amongst several that was providing students was not
a country that a certain publisher wanted to allow their materials into.
Is there a way that for a certain piece of material that access could be
blocked from that particular country?
In a word: no. At least, not at your end. You could make it a condition of the UK institution using your materials that they authenticate their VLE users and block students from certain locations, which would be passing the legal and practical buck to them, which would make them liable for copyright infringement if the "certain publisher" found out that their materials were going out to 'illicit' countries, which in turn might well put off institutions from using the materials in the first place, with the risk aversion so common these days in UKHE.
There's no easy solution, I'm afraid.
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