Studios Are Pressuring Netflix To Crackdown On VPN Users (That's Us, You Guys)

Getting Netflix in Australia has been pretty simple in recent years. Just fire up your VPN tunnelling service and get yourself some of that sweet streaming content. The future functionality of such a method looks in doubt today as studios work towards blocking VPNs coming from Australia to access Netflix.

Netflix isn't officially available in Australia, which means that if you want to get it, you can either sit and wait until it launches next year, or use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to trick the service into thinking you're an American user.

CNET reports That Australia may soon be left in the dark by Netflix as studios work to block those attempting to circumvent the geoblocking process.

A representative of studios including 20th Century Fox, Warner, Universal and Sony says that big studios aren't going to take it anymore, adding that discussions to block Netflix in Australia are "happening now".

The moves to block the service in Australia come as the Netflix service reportedly starts picking up streaming rights to shows for the Australian market. It's being reported that Netflix has the exclusive Australian streaming rights to the Batman prequel show Gotham slated for air later this year. The SMH reports that Netflix would likely have to wait until Nine aired the show locally in Australia before it could be streamed here.

Are we about to lose our Netflix? [CNET, TorrentFreak]

WATCH MORE: Entertainment News


    Back to torrents.

      When you try to be legal and get the same deal as everyone else and still get backlash. What other choice do we have as a nation? i dont know how they dont see that cracking down on this is sure as hell not going to lead to more sales.

    either offer a comparable service that is reliable, OR we will get it a way that it is easier for us.

    A representative of studios including 20th Century Fox, Warner, Universal and Sony says that big studios aren’t going to take it anymore, adding that discussions to block Netflix in Australia are “happening now”.

    A representative? Who is this representative and is this said representative really who he or she seems?

    Oh, it's Simon Bush from the Australian Home Entertainment Distributors Association.

    Bush didn’t name any of the companies involved, but he confirmed to Cnet that “discussions” to block Australian access to the US version of Netflix “are happening now”.

    Studios have a product to sell and I don't think they care how it's sold. If we go to Netflix the studio will still get its royalty or whatever is stipulated between the studio and the distributor.

    Like Village, I think Bush is just trying to protect a dead industry. I doubt he's even representing the studios. He's only name dropping to make it look like he speaks with authority.

    According to Bush the discussions to keep VPN users out are not tied to Netflix’s arrival in Australia.

    Yes it is, we're not idiots.

    The distributors...

    My favourite kind of people, not!

    ...and other rightsholders argue that they are already being deprived of licensing fees, because some Aussies ignore local services such as Quickflix.

    If I had a choice of using Quickflix or buying used toilet paper, I'd go for the latter.

    “They’re requesting for it to be blocked now, not just when it comes to Australia,” he adds.

    Yeah, good luck telling Netfix, the US distributors and the Studios up there to stop accepting funds willing paid from over 200,000 consumers.

    The worst part here is I think that movie studios have less rights and ownership over the products they make than the distributors do!

    Last edited 18/09/14 10:12 am

      Legally speaking, the studios should be on the side of the Australian distributors.

      While they may make money when an Australian streams a film via Netflix through a VPN, they had already sold off the right to stream to Australians to some other company and should honour that agreement. If they are seen to condone this behaviour, then they'd be open to lawsuits from the distributors.

      The real solution is to stop parcelling out streaming/download rights on a regional basis, but as long as the studios are selling these kinds of rights, they have an obligation to honour those agreements.

        Legally speaking, the studios should be on the side of the Australian distributors.

        You're right, they should. But (for discussion sake) if Disney entrusted me with distribution rights to their films, and my actions were causing people to pirate due to unfair pricing, I don't think Disney would care and would be happy to see me sink because it gets them out of a binding contract.

          Is there any indication that the studios are trying to get out of these regional distribution contracts though? Or are they continuing to license new content under the same distribution contracts they've always used?

          Unless that's the case, I think it is foolish to think that the studios would be on "our" side. They are the ones that enabled this regional distribution industry in the first place after all.

            Like I said I don't think they care.

            Take Netflix. Sure we are getting around a geo-block. But a service has still been paid for (in this case the Netflix subscription) and the studio will see its royalty.

            For the studio, it will still be business as usual.

            It's the distributors that are crying foal because we consumers are find ways around them.

              I can see the US studio being indifferent provided that the company they sold the Australian distribution rights to doesn't kick up a stink. If the Aussie distributors do follow through, it becomes a problem.

              The Aussie distributors can't go after Netflix directly because they don't hold copyright in the work being streamed. All they have is a license from the copyright holders giving them exclusive distribution rights in Australia. If someone else is distributing the work in Australia, then it is either copyright infringement (something the distributor will want the studio to prosecute), or it is licensed but a breach of the exclusive contract (which would be a reason for the distributor to sue the studio). Either way it becomes a problem for the studio.

    The studios are their own worst enemy. They need to look at why people are using VPN's to get services like Netflix into our homes. We are willing to pay to watch content. Stop trying to stop us. It's only going to make people pirate more.

    I can pay for Netflix to watch HD content at a reasonable price, or since there is NO Australian option that fits that criteria, I can hop back onto the good ship torrent and not pay anything, still using VPN's so I can't be tracked.

    Ball is in your court studio's. Yarr...

      That's the thing about this whole situation. The studios and distributors who are trying to crack down on "illegal" usage of Netflix think that people will take their money and spend it on local offerings. They don't seem to comprehend that people will get around it and avoid downgrading to inferior products.

      Seriously, the current HD offerings in Australia are a joke.

      Last edited 18/09/14 10:41 am

    I wouldnt see how they could block access.
    The first way would be asking netflix to stop accepting payments from AU credit cards/ paypal.
    When you buy using paypal IIRC it doesn't check the billing address on the credit card.
    You can also buy a prepaid mastercard or visa from the US,
    Get it shipped here and pay to recharge it online.
    The only other way they would be able to block the content would be through
    blocking VPN services, which would be a travesty as VPN services are not only used for anonymity.

    Last edited 18/09/14 10:30 am

      I tried to setup Netflix with my PayPal account. It didn't work. Changing the address in the account to a US address might ... but I'm not sure.

      There are several ways they can do this:

      1. They can track the IP addresses used by known VPN services etc and block them. This is already done by other services that are more aggressive about this.
      2. Only allow US credit cards, as you mention.
      3. If you buy using PayPal - they can accept only US PayPal accounts (that's what Apple iTunes store does, for example).

      Sure maybe you can get a prepaid US credit card, but doing that on a recurring basis can be a pain.

      You can also probably fairly easily get a US PayPal account, but maintaining that without a US credit card is a pain. If you ever travel to the US, though, it is pretty easy to get a US bank account with a Debit card. Use that to validate your US PayPal account, which you then use to move money between Australia and the US :).

      So there are always ways around these things, but if they start actively blocking services like unblock-us, I suspect things will get difficult.

    Quickflix complains because Netflix isn't doing anything to stop us, now the studios are, just bring Netflix to Australia already, problem solved.

      Can't agree more. Netflix have acknowledged that there is 200,000 Australians using their services. I can't imagine how many more have jumped on board since they announced that. The only thing that I can say that will stop Netflix from coming here is our backwards FTA networks and Foxtel. And maybe are slow broadband is another factor.

        Foxtel have no competition with Netflix, I guarantee the second Netflix arrives you'll see a shift of Foxtel subscribers move to Netflix and downgrade their package or get rid of it altogether.

      Unfortunately... Problem not solved because you can be pretty confident Australian Netflix will cost more and have way less content.

        Agreed but in the context of this article giving us some sort of Netflix service will keep Quickflix quiet along with the major studios.

        Last edited 18/09/14 5:09 pm

    I honestly see what their problem is, a person who torrents is using an illegal to access media, but if you use a VPN and pay for the service you are also using an illegal method. The industry in America should be happy that we are paying for content. The only reason that Foxtel are not happy because they charge $25 for 1 pay TV package and not $8 a month and the customer gets to choose what they watch. FOXTEL get with the times. Provide a similar service for the same price or give up. Hulu and Netflix are great services and until they block me l will keep using it, after that l will just have to resort to torrents again for TV shows.

    I'm so sick of these greedy little sh*t stains telling us that we're pirates because we use a loop hole to PAY FOR CONTENT. YOU'RE GETTING PAID YOU SOULLESS, GLUTENOUS CRETINS. How about you stop bitching that it's so unfair that your 20th Century licensing system doesn't work anymore and instead work towards fixing it through appropriate means. Like, say, giving us an equivalent or, god forbid, BETTER local service than Netflix in the US and maybe we'll switch and pay for that instead? I'd sooner go without any content consumption at all than waste my money on Foxtel or Quickflix.

    Seriously, if these morons get their way, I'm just going back to torrenting. Why shouldn't I? I've been paying them for their content for over a year now on Netflix, but apparently I'm no better than the people who just take it for free anyway. So the choice is, pay nothing and get labelled a moral-less scumbag pirate, or pay for it and get labelled a moral-less scumbag pirate... Tough choice that one!

    Clearly the Australian distributors like Quickflix, Village, Foxtel et al have never heard of 'reverse psychology'. I'm thinking their execs are all pretty lousy parents too - or at least parents just like mine who think that saying "no you can't do it" loudly enough, and for long enough, is all they need to do to stop a behaviour.

    Here's a tip guys - the more loudly and forcefully you try to stop something, the more it just makes your 'kids' (us consumers) want to stick our fingers up with a big f-you. So yeah, the more you fight us, the more you are ENCOURAGING piracy. You might be able to win some individual cases when you take individuals or particular sites to court - but realise you CAN'T win the 'war' and put the content genie back in the bottle.

    Can they really completely block us from getting to Netflix? Surely, even if they are somewhat successful, there will always be ways around whatever block they put up?

      They will require Netflix to confirm your address - so there will be some punitive measures put in place to penalise Netflix for not policing their service users.
      Very Orwellian control of a Huxley distraction.

      They can't. It just becomes a whack-a-mole situation.
      VPNs, DNS spoofers, proxies, etc. get new IP addresses -> new addresses get blocked -> more new addresses -> new addresses get blocked.
      Meanwhile, people find new ways around the block. eg. Find someone in the US through whom you can route traffic. Suddenly you basically have your own private VPN, which no service would ever assume was a VPN and thus wouldn't get blocked.

        I had one of those, sadly it went through Time Warner Cable so getting HD was an issue.

        Find someone in the US through whom you can route traffic

        Heh, only if you know anyone who wants to add your monthly Netflix data usage to their own data usage :). I sure don't know anyone that generous.

    I have no confidence in them getting this right.
    VPN and torrents for-life, no need to tie-yourself to any of these services and continuing the use of VPN's and torrents will be the measure on whether or not they get it right.
    I wont torrent or VPN if it's cost-effective and timely.

    Until then, I wont have any issues until VPN's are made illegal.

      VPNs been made illegal wont ever happen they have to many legit uses, which is good for us :)

      Businesses used VPN's all the time

        Aye - thats my point, VPN's will never be made illegal so ... why change to proposed systems that aren't as efficient at delivering the item and will likely go through iterations over your lifetime that will cost you time to work with.

        Time is precious to me so any time-saving efficiency appeals and VPN/TOR > other options.

    Wouldn't and currently is this violating the US&AUS FTA?

    They'd probably wipe out 90% of their Australian user base if they blocked everyone from the post code 90210.

      lol! I just added a zero in front of my local postcode.

    I'm pretty sure that everyone has missed the real point of this move.
    Yes yes, your VPN Netflixing is under threat - but do you actually see by whom? Netflix themselves! They are trying to legitimise the revenue stream in Aus and so need to convert VPNers to the incoming Aus Netflix users. So, though this seems like another "Aus gets screwed" story, it is actually the first step toward people getting what they want.
    Would love all of this - but with my 0.8 download speed, I can't stream crap. :/

      it is actually the first step toward people getting what they want

      I certainly don't want it. I want to continue getting the cheap, content rich US Netflix, not be forced to switch to the expensive and content poor Australian Netflix.

      Oh, and...

      I can't stream crap. :/

      Bummer, dude.

      Last edited 18/09/14 2:58 pm

    And in the end, even if Netfix do come here, it will still be a crippled piece of shit compared the US version..!

    Sigh. This is why I've never been too excited about Netflix coming to Australia.

    The Australian version will be more limited and more expensive than the US version, and it was inevitable that Netflix would be required to crack down on Australian users accessing the US version as part of their negotiations with Australian distributors.

    So we're in a much better place with Netflix not (officially) available in Australia.

    Let's hope unblock-us et al are up to the task of staying one step ahead :).

    Who cares? It's TV shows and movies, hardly important to the fabric of our society.

      It is the whole point of this discussion however..!

      Last edited 18/09/14 1:22 pm

      Putting aside a discussion on how important art is to society, you're missing the big picture. In order to attempt to secure a crumbling, old business model, content licencers are attempting more and more restrictive methods of blocking access via the Internet. Eventually these methods have the potential to actually damage the infrastructure and adversely affect all internet users.
      How heavy handed will VPN blocking have to be stop Australian traffic?
      How much VPN usage that has nothing to do with TV and Movies will be blocked along the way?
      The real answer, that content providers in Australia are too caught up in themselves to see, is to use the current situation to negotiate. If the licence holders cannot provide the content that Australian consumers want at a reasonable price, then the likes of Foxtel and Quickflix should REDUCE their objection to other more clandestine methods that people are using. If you want our Australian companies to police your out-moded business practice, wise up and sell us what we are so desperate for that if you can't - we'll get it some other way.

      Sorry - Rant over.

        The aussi content providers have little or no sway on the US market imo, so frankly, I doubt they will have any say, other than bluster..! :)

    Anyone would be forgiven for thinking that the studios and distributors really want to prevent Australians accessing their products altogether.

    Declaring war on your customers is a great way of pissing them off and encouraging them to use other methods of accessing your products.

      It certainly won't push me to Quickflix, Presto, Foxtel or even free to air TV. Instead it's pushing me back to torrents.

    Guess ill just have to stop paying for content legally then and go back to pirating.

    If we illegally download they complain, if we actually they also complain. WTF are we suppose to do. If they block Netflix here people will go back to downloading and things will get even worse.
    Those studios are shooting their own foot by doing that. Stop living in this world separated by regions and understand that nothing is based on just the american market.
    The more they talk about this more people will realize what they are missing and how they can actually sign for Netflix. Great collateral marketing strategy for Netflix

    The main reason they want to stop Australians from accessing Netflix via VPNs is because we are not paying the full price they want to charge us, ie the Australia Tax. An added benefit will be an increase in piracy thus giving them more ammunition to have a whine with Brandis about.

    What these frickin idiots don't realise is that I am not going to just go and pay for ridiculously priced and poor quality Australian alternatives if they manage to block my netflix. I legitimately pay for netflix and hulu. I am giving the rights holders money. Why should I be punished because I don't want to be figuratively raped by the Australian middle man and allow the studios to gouge me more? If this ever happens it will probably be back to illegal means for me. When will Australian companies and rights holders actually accept we are a global economy now and that consumers aren't willing to accept the old excuses and gouging anymore. Can't believe we are being treated like criminals for actually paying for content. #sofrickinmad

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