Pandora has forsaken me
Yesterday I got an email from Tim Westergen, the Founder of Pandora.com. I am now mildly upset, because Pandora has started filtering by IP addresses so that people outside of the United States are unable to listen to their service. Previously, they filtered by asking your Zip Code (which I'm sure everyone outside of the US entered as "90210"), but they've beefed up their security, I guess. The letter goes as follows:
Dear Pandora listener,
Today we have some extremely disappointing news to share with you. Due to international licensing constraints, we are deeply, deeply sorry to say that we must begin proactively preventing access to Pandora's streaming service from Canada. We began blocking access from almost all countries outside the U.S. last week and had originally hoped to maintain access to Canada. However, it has become clear in the last week that we just haven't been able to make enough progress to continue streaming.
It is difficult to convey just how disappointing this is for us. Our vision remains to eventually make Pandora a truly global service, but for the time being, we can no longer continue as we have been. As a small company, the best chance we have of realizing our dream of Pandora all around the world is to grow as the licensing landscape allows.
We show your IP address is 'XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX', which indicates you are listening from Canada. If you believe you are seeing this by mistake, we offer our sincere apologies and ask that you please reply to this email.
Delivery of Pandora is based on proper licensing from the people who created the music - we have always believed in honoring the guidelines as determined by legislators and regulators, artists and songwriters, and the labels and publishers they work with. In the U.S. there is a federal statute that provides this license for all the music streamed on Pandora. Unfortunately, there is no equivalent license outside the U.S. and there is no global licensing organization to enable any webcaster to legitimately offer its service around the world. The volume of listening on Pandora makes it a very expensive service to run. Streaming costs are very high, and since our inception, we have been making publishing and performance royalty payments for every song we play.
Until last week, we have not been able to tell where a listener is based, relying only on zip code information provided upon registration. We are now able to recognize a listener's country of origin based on the IP address from which they are accessing the service. Consequently, on May 16th, we will begin blocking access to Pandora to listeners from Canada. We are very sad to have to do this, but there is no other alternative.
We will be posting updates on our blog regarding our ongoing effort to launch in other countries, so please stay in touch. We will keep a record of your existing stations and bookmarked artists and songs, so that when we are able to launch in your country, they will be waiting for you. We deeply share your sense of disappointment and greatly appreciate your understanding.
I am of two minds on the subject. On one hand, I'm fairly upset, because I love Pandora. It is a fantastic service that provides exactly what I want, which is a customizable jukebox type of service. On the other hand, I really understand where they're coming from - if they don't do this, they could potentially be sued for millions upon millions of dollars. I certainly don't begrudge the CYA nature of what they're doing.
What's my solution? Well, there's a couple, but they're all variations on a theme. I could use TOR server to mask my IP address and then just argue that I'm in the states. I could just acquire a US-based IP. Or I could stop listening to Pandora.
It's all up in the air right now... at the very least, I would like a record of the activity on my account up to now.