The Australian reports that executives at Harvey Norman are considering their position on selling the McTivia media streamer, due to concerns over its potentially copyright-infringing promotion of VPN services to access overseas video content.
The basics of the McTivia are solid enough, but it’s the inclusion of a flyer that promotes a specific VPN service and its ability to deliver services such as Hulu even though they’re geoblocked for Australian users that has Harvey Norman execs in a tizzy, according to the paper. It quotes Harvey Norman senior electronics brand manager Gary Brown as stating that the VPN isn’t a key selling point:
We are simply selling it as a device that allows you to network your computer and I don’t think we’ve sold one box under the proviso of circumventing any network or access to content or whatever”
I’ve reviewed the McTivia, and while Harvey Norman specifically might not be plugging that feature, the leaflet that describes it is very front and centre when you do open the box. McTivia’s local distributor, Inspire technology is quoted in the article, with managing director Robert Bonanno stating that
the whole issue may upset a few of the networks because they will probably strive to make additional revenue out of the content with paid advertising locally but otherwise there is no copyright breach”.