We all know YouTube as the video-sharing website with a never-ending supply of new videos. You can find an enormous amount of videos on every thinkable subject. However, sometimes you can encounter restrictions that prevent you from watching a particular video. Read here why some videos are blocked and how you can bypass these geographical restrictions with a VPN.
Why are Some YouTube Videos Blocked?
When you get an error notice in YouTube it is most likely for one of the following reasons. To quote the platform, a video might not be available to you because “video owners have chosen to make their content available only to certain countries (usually due to licensing rights)” or “YouTube may block specific content in order to comply with local laws.” These are the two main reasons. However, there are also countries that restrict access to the platform as a whole. In this last case they do not block specific videos but they block the entire website.
Blocked by Uploader
YouTube is a website where everybody can create content. When you upload a video on your YouTube channel you can decide in what countries people can watch your videos. Moreover, you may block access to your video in a certain country.
While most YouTubers will allow everybody access to a video there are some companies that pose restrictions. Bigger companies in the music or movie industry sometimes block content on the basis of release dates or distributing rights. If they do not have the rights to show a video in a certain country they will block viewers from that country.
Blocked by YouTube
YouTube has to abide by the laws of every individual country it is available in. Since laws are different in every country, YouTube has to adapt. This means YouTube will block content in some countries. Most restrictions have to do with laws on copyright and intellectual property protection. The best known example of a conflict Youtube had over copyright was with GEMA (Gesellschaft für musikalische Aufführungs- und mechanische Vervielfältigungsrechte). This German company, that represents musicians and composers, geoblocked a large amount of videos in 2009. They demanded that musicians get paid for the use of their songs on YouTube. After a long struggle, YouTube and GEMA reached a settlement in 2016. However, it is unknown how long the peace will last.
You can only bypass this type of blocking if the videos are available in at least one country. Moreover, your provider needs to have access to at least one server in a country the video isn’t blocked in.
Governments Restrict use of YouTube Itself
Sometimes governments will restrict the access to YouTube. In these cases it has more to do with the platform in general than specific content. In countries like China and North Korea, YouTube is blocked because it is believed to spread illegal messages. YouTube is seen as a threat to the regime because everybody can spread their own thoughts and beliefson the platform. Most totalitarian regimes do not allow messages that contradict their truth. You can read more about these types of restrictions in our article about online censorship.
|Country||Reason for blocking YouTube
|Eritrea||Possible bandwidth considerations|
|North Korea||Prohibited by law|
|South Sudan||‘Anti-islamic’ content|
|Tajikistan||A video of the president singing out of tune|
Access to Blocked YouTube Videos with a VPN
A VPN can help you unblock all videos, whatever the reason behind the restriction. A VPN encrypts all of your internet traffic. Moreover, it hides your IP address. When you use a VPN your computer takes on the IP address of the VPN server you are connected to. Websites and others will see the other IP address. It will seem like you are accessing the internet from wherever the server is you’re connected to. This way, you can pretend to be somewhere you’re not!
Most VPN providers offer servers in a lot of different countries. If content is blocked by the owner or YouTube, you have to connect to a country where that video is available. If you cannot access YouTube because your government has blocked the site in its entirety, you have to connect to a server in a country where this is not the case. There are a lot of VPN providers. We have listed two providers below that work best if you want to watch YouTube videos with a VPN. If you are planning to use a VPN for different purposes you can check out our list of the best all-round tier 1 providers.
ExpressVPN has over 3000 servers in over 90 different countries. With this selection of servers you will always find a way around the restrictions on YouTube. ExpressVPN servers have fast and stable connections so you can easily stream videos. Moreover, their applications are user-friendly and they have great customer support.
ExpressVPN is at the higher end of the price spectrum, but you do get your money’s worth. With ExpressVPN you can safely and anonymously browse the internet free of restrictions.
- Super fast and simple VPN
- Perfect for anonymous browsing, downloading and streaming (i.a. Netflix)
- 3000+ servers in 94 countries
Surfshark has over 500 servers in more than 50 countries all over the world. That is enough to always find a server that will allow you to bypass restrictions on YouTube. Surfshark offers extremely fast connections that will allow you to stream YouTube videos with ease. You can use their service on an unlimited number of devices at the same time. Finally, their security protocols allow you to watch YouTube videos anonymously and worry-free. Find out more about this super-fast service in our extensive Surfshark test.
- Very user-friendly and works with Netflix and torrents
- 30 days money back guarantee. No questions asked!
- Cheap with many extra options
How to Find out Where a YouTube Video is Blocked
Now, how will you find out what server you should connect to, to watch your video? Well, there are several websites that can help you figure this out. An example is Unblockvideos, where you can enter the url of the video you would like to watch and they will tell you all you need to know. The site presents you with a comprehensive map of the world that shows you where your video is blocked. This map, for instance, shows the countries where Adele’s Skyfall video is blocked:
Once you have found out where your video is not blocked, you connect to a server in that country and refresh the YouTube page. There you go! Now there are no more restrictions for you.
Anonymously Watch YouTube Videos
With the above mentioned option of a VPN you can watch YouTube videos anonymously. However, do remember to sign out and use an incognito mode in your browser. Otherwise, YouTube will remember your searches and show you videos linked to previously watched videos when you next visit the site. YouTube has this service to help you find videos you’ll like. However, if you want to be truly anonymous they make it slightly difficult.
There are three possible reasons why you can find yourself unable to watch a video on YouTube. Firstly, the user who uploaded the video might have restricted the countries from which you can view their video. Secondly, YouTube can block videos in certain countries, if the content doesn’t abide by the laws of a country. Finally, it could be that your government blocks the use of the website as a whole.
You can bypass all these types of restrictions with a VPN. By connecting to the VPN servers in another country you can watch the YouTube video of your choosing. If your purpose is watching YouTube videos anonymously a VPN isn’t enough. You will have to remember to log out of your YouTube account and turn on the incognito mode in your browser.