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Hi-tech freebies

Here’s how people are watching the World Cup without cable

Hours before the kickoff of World Cup 2014, Benn Jordan took to his computer to watch the Brazilian team battle Croatia. But because he doesn’t have a cable television subscription, he and scores (1) of soccer fans were shut out of ESPN’s stream of the game online.

That proved to be a minor inconvenience. Within minutes Jordan was able to use a technical workaround (2) that allowed him to charade (3) as a UK resident to watch a free British stream of the game from his Chicago home.

Jordan’s tactics appear to be more common as consumers look for loopholes (4), technical workarounds and controversial new services to get all of their content online, even as cable and satellite providers work to keep their most valuable shows within paid subscriptions.

Like many popular television programmes, online viewing is still only available to those who can prove they also subscribe to cable or satellite television bundles of channels. But increasingly, consumers are finding ways to defy the requirements of cable companies. And a niche industry (5) has emerged offering software that helps consumers cut the cable cord but still get the content they want online.

“Tired of cable? Cut the cord! Learn how to watch LIVE sports without cable here,” software company Ghost Path VPN marketed on its blog and through tweets and messages on Facebook. Through a simple software download, consumers can create virtual private networks that mask or change one’s location.

It took Jordan about 10 minutes to set up a VPN service that allowed him to set his location to the United Kingdom and pick up a live stream (6) of the first World Cup match via England’s public television service ITV. “Setting up a VPN was pretty easy,” he said. And watching the World Cup was just one of the many programmes he’s now able to get online without having to pay for cable service.

The use of VPNs to watch sports programmes do not violate copyright laws, according to John Bergmeyer, a staff attorney at Public Knowledge. But ESPN or other networks with distribution rights to the programmes could determine that use of “geo-blocking” services like VPNs violate their terms of service, he said.

(1)Scores
Score has many meanings: the score of a sports game or test, a music score players read from, a group of 20 items... but here it means “a lot of”.

(2)Workaround
You know how there is always an obvious, recommended way to do something that you can learn from manuals and that in theory is the only way to do it? Well, the workaround is the other way.

(3)Charade
A charade is a situation where you pretend you are someone else or try to pass yourself off as something/someone that you are not.

(4)Loophole
A loophole is a mistake or a gap in a law or contract that allows you to legally do something that the law or contract tried to stop you from doing.

(5)Niche industry
In marketing, a niche is a small group of customers who are interested in or need something that is of no interest to mass consumers. A niche industry is one that caters to the specific need of that small group of customers.

(6)Stream
A stream is a small, narrow river or any steady flow of water. By extension, it is used as a verb to refer to playing video or audio by receiving the data from a server or the internet (as a “stream” of information) rather than having it on the device that is playing it. Some of the most popular streaming services are YouTube, Spotify, Netflix, etc.

* How the Herald changes the news
Yes, we admit it: newspapers change the news you read. For this story, for instance (and in every other page of every Herald you've read) we consistently change the spelling of words in the news services to match our house style.
What do we do and why is it important to you? Well, our house style is a blend of UK and US English, with more UK in the mix. That affects the spelling of some word endings, since most of the news services we subscribe to feature US spellings.
Some differences? Words like “program” become “programme,” for instance, and “-or” endings become “-our” (“color” to “colour”). In the US, the past tense of verbs like “cancel” does not take a double consonant (“canceled”) but spellers in the UK (and the Herald!) use “cancelled.” Also, verbs that end in “-ize” in the US change to “-ise” in the UK (although not at the Herald!).

Adapted from a story by Cecilia Kang, The Washington Post.

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