1 Oct 2007

Amazon MP3 service is useless for expats like me

filed under: journal  :: expat life  :: shopping  :: stupidity

[Another update: The workaround no longer works.]

[Update: There is a way around the Amazon geographical restriction thing. See here. ]

There have been a lot of raves about the new MP3 download service, mainly because it's 10 cents cheaper than the iTunes Music Store, and it's (allegedly) DRM-free. (I say allegedly, because I'm quite skeptical about these claims from any source, but that's besides the point here.) However, just like their awful UnBox video download service, they restrict download by 'geographical location', meaning that they probably filter by your IP address:

We could not process your order because of geographical restrictions on the product which you were attempting to purchase. Please refer to the terms of use for this product to determine the geographical restrictions. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you.

Well gee thanks for the concern, Amazon.

Of course, as I ranted about in my Unbox post, I can still order CDs and DVDs from them with no problems. The only difference there is the delivery medium, isn't it? This kind of backwards looking stupidity just makes me laugh.

The U.S. iTunes Music Store does allow purchases and downloads with a valid U.S. credit card. (There are the multiple other-country stores too.) That's not a perfect solution either but at least it's better than Amazon's assheadedness.

No wonder so many people go for the hassle-free, illegal download option, don't you think?

Comments on this post:

Re: Unbox

Not that I'd advocate or condone it in any way (!), but you could "extend" your rentals and remove the DRM from your purchases using a free utility called FairUse4WM. It would violate the terms and conditions, but at least you'd be paying for the content and not bit torrenting it! So if you don't mind paying $5/month for the privilege, it's possible to have Unbox without the disadvantages.


I hate Unbox so much I didn't try it this time, but it's good to know it's protected from us wierdos who dare to venture outside of the good old USA. :P

Works for Amazon MP3 but not Unbox

That works great for Amazon MP3, but you still need a US IP to download videos using Unbox! :)


Thanks for the suggestions Donogh and Mark. Mark following your comments I've figured out that Amazon filters by the _shipping address_ of all things, which is...silly. As far as your musical tastes go Mark - have you tried They have quite a lot of classical and esoteric things...all DRM free, and geographically neutral.

It works from Japan

I live in Japan, and I've bought two songs and an album so far. It's really a wonderful service. The browsing and search is better than iTunes. I bought the album for my wife, and I was able to bring the songs into iTunes on my Mac and then also copy the MP3 files from my Mac to my wife's Vista machine, from which she put them on her iPod. When you buy a song it asks you to choose your address. It "helpfully" displays any U.S.-based addresses you have on file. In my case, I had ordered books for my mom, so it displayed her Texas address. I chose that. This address has nothing to do with my credit card statements or anything, so it seems to be a pretty gaping, deliberate loophole that Amazon has left open, for the time being, at least. I don't know if you can just create a fake U.S. address, of if they check to see if you have actually shipped an order to that address, but I suspect the former. You know, iTunes only works within your own country, and I think they really are IP address based, or else credit card billing address based. I can only buy stuff from the Japanese store. The big shortcoming: A lack of music. Amazon just doesnt have much that I want. Apparently they only have half or so of iTunes inventory. I really wouldn't know, since I rip CDs and have only bought a couple of things from iTunes. Maybe my taste is just more towards the older and more esoteric music, and iTunes would be the same story for me.


I'm in a similar situation with Amazon, so I just use a US VPN service. I'm currently using ($5/month). Sh3lls is just one provider - there are lots of them out there. looks good too. It's a bit silly that you need to use a VPN account at all, but at least the option's there.


i just bought the same service.. but am having trouble setting it up... i tried to create a vpn connection with "create new connection" dont know where to add the port number though.... could u please email the steps... or post.. thanks much

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