Beating TWC SportsNet LA carriage problem spurs newspaper's dubiously legal IP masking guide

With carriage licensing issues keeping 70 percent of the Los Angeles pay-TV market from seeing the Dodgers play on a second consecutive opening day for Major League Baseball, a local newspaper is now openly encouraging readers to break the law.

On Monday, the Los Angeles Daily News published a mini how-to guide--a dubiously legal one--on how to see Dodgers games without subscribing to Time Warner Cable's (NYSE: TWC) SportsNet LA.

The technique isn't necessarily a secret: many hardcore Southern California baseball fans who subscribe to DirecTV (NASDAQ: DTV), Verizon FiOS (NYSE: VZ) or any of the other major pay-TV services which have refused to pay Time Warner Cable around $5 a sub to license SportsNet LA have known about this for some time.

The Daily News advises its readers to buy the premium OTT package from MLB.com. But before doing that, readers should also pay nearly $5 a month to subscribe to an IP address-masking service like UnBlockUs.com or Unlocator.com. This will keep MLB.com from recognizing the reader as a Southern California resident and thus not block them out from Dodgers home games.

"Is it legal?" the paper asks. "Well, it's what lawyers will call 'a breach of the terms of service.'"

The writer, longtime Daily News columnist Tom Hoffarth, talked to a local baseball fan who uses the UnBlockUs.com service.

"I can't find anything that says it isn't legal," graphic designer Roger Arrieta told Hoffarth. "I just do it during the baseball season. I mean, it's either do something crazy or keep complaining and not watching. You've gotta do something, right?"

The Dodgers, who agreed to take $8.35 billion over 25 years to cede their exclusive local TV rights to TWC, start their 2015 season Monday.

For more:
- see this Los Angeles Daily News article

Related articles:
TWC SportsNet LA: There are no serious carriage talks, and there never were
TWC says there will be no write-down on SportsNet LA
TWC will eat $1B loss on SportsNet LA before merger close, report says

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