When I moved out of the US, one of the things I missed was Netflix. I considered keeping my subscription and streaming via VPN, but decided I needed to cut down on TV anyway and so canceled the subscription. I do have friends in similar situations who opted to keep subscribing, signing up for VPN services so they can watch in countries where Netflix is not present.
Unfortunately, according to TorrentFreak, it appears Netflix is now cracking down on customers using VPN to watch its shows. Note, that they are in fact customers.
This is in likelihood due to pressure from studios, who often have geography-focused licensing schemes. So if you’re in Australia, for example, that show you saw on Netflix via VPN was likely paid for by an Australian operator to show in Australia. I.e., it presents a lost profit opportunity for the Australian operator.
So Netflix cracking down on VPN use is perfectly fine, in my view. It’s their prerogative to structure their business however they see fit. What I do take issue with is these same Australian operators calling customers who watch via VPN as “pirates,” as if they are criminals breaking the law.
Highlighting how the TV networks view these people, an article this morning in News Corp-owned The Australian went as far as labeling subscribers as “pirates”, even though they are paying for the service.
It’s a little offensive if you think about it, and I’m not even part of the group being slandered.
Imagine if you were on holiday in Japan. There’s a product that’s sold in Japan that you want; the equivalent sold back home is more expensive, or maybe it’s inferior somehow. So you buy it in Japan and bring it back home. Are you now a pirate? Are you now a criminal?
That’s essentially what’s happening with watching via VPN. You paid money for a service. If the service provider doesn’t want to sell it to you because you’re not its target market, that’s fine, but that’s on the service provider to enforce. If enforcement is weak or nonexistent, that’s on the seller and not on the customer.
Buying something doesn’t make you a criminal, unless the product itself is illegal (e.g. drugs).
The media is labeling VPN viewers as pirates and that’s just not right.