Frustrated at paying inflated local prices for your music downloads? Want a free and relatively easy way to shop at amazon.co.uk? Read on...
If you've kept up with this blog you'll already know of my frustrations with geotarding and overpriced Australian mp3s. If, like me, you think that it's total nonsense that you can order a CD from amazon.co.uk and have it shipped to Australia, but you can't download an mp3 from the same shop, then this article is for you.
Before I start: this is largely a distillation of this excellent guide to getting BBC iPlayer working: "Using BBC iPlayer, Spotify or Hulu internationally" and this equally useful piece: "How To Use An IP From A Specific Country While Running Tor". For a note on using iPlayer see the bottom of this article, but for now we're just going to concentrate on the bits needed to get amazon.co.uk working (and if you need more detailed instructions then please refer to either of those two articles).
NOTE: it's well worth checking out Play.com first for mp3 downloads: there's no geotarding as far as I can tell and the prices are usually comparable to amazon's
These instructions look a little long, but that's only because I've broken them down into a series of bite-sized instructions: follow these and you'll be up and running in just a few minutes:
Install Tor and FoxyProxy
- You will need the following: the Tor/Vidalia bundle (of which you only need the Tor and Vidalia components); the FoxyProxy addon for Firefox
- Install Tor and Vidalia.
- Install FoxyProxy (if Tor doesn't appear in the list of proxies then right-click the FoxyProxy icon in Firefox, select Options, then go to File > Tor Wizard.
Configure Tor to use a UK proxy
- You need a Tor proxy that uses a UK exit node. However, most of the sites listed on the abovementioned articles are either down or come up 'untrusted'. For now these ones seem to be working for me:
- To add the exit nodes right-click on the Vidalia icon in your task bar and choose Settings (or double-click and choose Settings)
- Go to the Advanced tab
- Click Browse next to the entry for Tor Configuration File
- Right-click the torcc file and Open
- Find the line that starts with ExitNodes and paste in your exit nodes:
e.g. ExitNodes MaoUK1,MaoUK1,buxton
- On the last line make sure that you have:
- Save and close the file, and restart Tor
- Again, for more detail instructions for the above read Steps 2, 2a and 3 here
Now, you could start Tor up and use it for all your browsing, but that would just end being really slow. Instead you just want to use Tor for the few pages on amazon.co.uk that run the IP address check. Luckily FoxyProxy lets you do this.
- Right-click the FoxyProxy icon in Firefox and select Options
- If you don't see a Tor proxy then run File > Tor Wizard.
- If you see Tor listed then highlight it and click on Edit Selection at the right of the window
- Go to the URL Patterns tab - this is where we can configure the proxy to only kick in when you visit certain URLs.
- Click Add New Pattern
- Enter Amazon UK (or whatever you like) for the name, and the following for URL Pattern:
- Do it a second time, this time with the following URL Pattern:
(as far as I can tell passing these two URLs via the proxy is sufficient to bypass the IP checking on amazon - it's possible they could be made a little more precise)
- Close the FoxyProxy window.
- Right-click again on the FoxyProxy icon and select Use Proxies based on their predefined patterns and priorities
The above should be enough to get everything working, but best to do a quick test first.
- Right-click your FoxyProxy icon in Firefox and select Use proxy Tor for all URLs
- Right-click the Vidalia icon in your windows task bar and Start (or find Vidalia in your Start Menu and click Start Tor from the Vidalia control panel)
- Visit TorCheck: https://check.torproject.org/ to verify that Tor is actually working
- Visit http://torcheck.xenobite.eu/ to see if you're showing up with a UK IP (you should see a UK flag in the 'Your Geolocation' line near the top
If all the above works you're good to go and waste some cash buying UK mp3s (remember to right-click FoxyProxy and change to Use Proxies based on their predefined patterns and priorities first. If the above doesn't work you'll probably need to find a new Tor exit node (for which I suggest you visit those two articles listed at the top).
The two articles I've linked to explain how to use Tor to access BBC iPlayer, Hulu, etc. Problem is Tor is a bit slow to effectively stream iPlayer. The best solution I've come across so far (not free, but it is cheap) is UnblockUS, which is awesomely simple and works excellently (and was discovered by a most excellent Twitter friend of mine).