It Looks Like Netflix Is Cracking Down On VPN 'Pirating'

It Looks Like Netflix Is Cracking Down On VPN 'Pirating'

It's one of the internet's open secrets that if you don't live in the US, but wish you did because of the better Netflix offerings, you can use any number of Chrome extensions or VPNs to get around the geo-blocker. However, it looks like the free ride might be coming to an end, as Netflix is starting to crack down on the practice.

As TorrentFreak has noted, Netflix has recently taken up blocking some services that get around geo-blockers. They're targeting VPNs, which tunnel traffic through a particular service, and DNS-spoofing websites, which simply serve to change your virtual location. Blocking isn't widespread for now -- Hola Better Internet, a hugely popular Chrome extension, is still functioning -- but as TorrentFreak points out, this could easily be a test of a more blanket block that is yet to be introduced.

Blocking geo-pirates is a logical step for the content providers, who have thus far concentrated more on streaming and torrenting websites in their crusade against the internet. But since geo-piracy is easy to detect, and legally and technically relatively simple to take measures against, it was really only a matter of time. [TorrentFreak]


    Arr! Back to piracy it is, me matey!

    Clearly the copyright cartels don't realise that generation y-not will pay for a good service, until it doesn't have the content they want, then they will just go to other places that DO have it.

    They will never ever slow down piracy by discouraging people who want to put their hand in their pocket.

    When hulu did this, they annoyed a lot of people, blocked some legit users in the USA, and then after all that the vpn companies (providing this access is part of their use case and business model) still found ways around it anyway and it's still possible to use hulu over vpn.

    Last edited 04/01/15 9:24 am

    So Australia's free trade agreement does extend to people here buying things from their.

    And given Canada's recent change in copyright law to require ISPs to send notices to people who download copyrighted material without permission, I guess the MPAA will also soon have a new stream of income suing Australians.

      Can we please not mention Free Trade Agreements every time there’s an article like this.

      FTAs effectively do one thing: lower or abolish tariffs and other restrictions imposed by governments.

      It has nothing to do with compelling a private company to do business in Australia.

      I happen to think that the content owners have been incredibly narrow-sited in limiting access globally on services like Netflix and Hulu. But that has nothing to do with FTAs.

        yes, however FTAs also come with other requirements that each country wants the other to do, for example the U.S. Stipulated changes to our copyright law as well as wanted changes to our IP laws as part of the agreement, both of which probably wouldn't have been looked at without an FTA.

        Yup. Difficult getting buildings onto those narrow sites! :-)

        Except that I am not doing business in Australia. If my presence extends by VPN to the US, my business is done in the US. I simply have long fingers. In addition since the VPN is "private" I am not in breach of any restrictions re: broadcast.

          But... you're geographically in Australia. And, unfortunately, Australia has other (crappier, some might say) distributors who have rights to the shows that US Netflix has and Australia is marginally more expensive to run a business than the US because we've got, you know, reasonable wages.

          As long as we have geographical borders, we're going to have digital ones to preserve individual economies. And unless you're intending to abolish all borders and live with the consequences of that, that isn't going to change.

    So now your a 'Pirate' based on your location, even though you are paying for it. When will those idiots in Hollywood understand, One Global Release Date!!!

    Last edited 04/01/15 10:06 am

      Yeah, it amazes me how now if you use a VPN you are considered a pirate. Watch out for those "VPN Pirates" paying for all their content ;)

    So you are now a pirate for paying for things? Ok, so it's not completely legal. But at least it's more legal than torrenting. When will content providers learn that region blocking content just makes the issue worse? It just pushes people to find it other ways. And the other way is more illegal than this way. Get your heads out your ass and realise that you are the real problem. We are willing to pay for content. Let us FFS.

    Last edited 04/01/15 10:32 am

      I checked the article's source and AUSTRALIAN entertainment producers do indeed want Netflix to stop "VPN-pirates" who they believe are depriving them of a livelihood.

        From what I have heard it's the distributors who are upset more so than the producers. Australia being so far away from everything else there are dozens of distributors who have secured rights to various properties. I know someone who worked at Quickflix during the early days, their biggest problem was trying to negotiate with all the many distributors. With all the amalgamated behemoth media companies in the USA it's a lot easier to organise a deal, here we have too many middle men..

      Actually, not only is it i completely legal to circumvent geoblockers, the labor government and ACCC actually encouraged it.

        From memory, the relevant legislation is grey on circumvention, as in, it hasn't been tested in court yet.

        Edit: Circumvention appears to be a civil, rather than criminal, matter.
        Here's the relevant section per the Copyright Act 1968.

        Explains why the article's author uses the colloquial of copyright infringer.

        Last edited 04/01/15 2:23 pm

          As far as I'm concerned, local / regional distribution deals are between the local distributor and the content owner. I'm not party to them, never agreed to them, so I feel no need to be restricted by them. How is me streaming Netflix from the US any different than ordering a BluRay disc from Amazon US instead of buying it locally through the Australian distributor? I'm paying for it, money is going to the creators of the content, end of story. Local distribution of digital streaming content is just putting a completely unnecessary middle man into the process, forcing up prices and reducing the available content by fragmenting it across multiple services.

          I'm sure as hell not going to pay twice as much as US consumers for half the content when Australian Netflix launches. If that's what we want, we already have that option with Quickflix, and you just have to look at how they're travelling to see how much demand there is in this country for a substandard service. If Netflix give us the same content as the US and at the same price then I'll happily pay for the local version. Otherwise, if I can't keep using the US version (although it was still working fine for me last night), I won't be paying for any of them.

          I haven't torrented a thing since I started using Netflix last year. If that option is taken away from me it'll be back to the high seas for me.

            I agree. But I can't see why an Australian Netflix will be any different to the US. All that is on Netflix are shows that are already out on DVD/Blu-Ray. If Netflix want us Aussies to use the Australian version they will need to have the same content as the us version. Which also means are stupid and slow networks need to lift their game and get the latest seasons shown quicker and not drag their feet thinking that they are doomed. If they work with Netflix then everyone will be happy. I much rather pay for content. The sooner that is learnt by the backwards thinking of the studios the better.

              The problem is those local distribution agreements. Shows which are on the US Netflix in many cases have their Australian rights already signed up by somebody else. E.g. Breaking Bad is on US Netflix, but those rights in Australia are held by Stan, so it won't be on the Australian Netflix. Even a lot of Netflix's own shows (e.g. House of Cards and Orange Is The New Black) won't be on Australian Netflix because they've sold the Australian rights to other services (in this case, Foxtel).

              So the short answer is no, it won't have the same content as the US version. So no, I won't be paying for it.

            "As far as I'm concerned, local / regional distribution deals are between the local distributor and the content owner. I'm not party to them, never agreed to them, so I feel no need to be restricted by them."

            Netflix Terms of Use, paragraph 6. c. "c.You may view a movie or TV show through the Netflix service primarily within the country in which you have established your account and only in geographic locations where we offer our service and have licensed such movie or TV show. The content that may be available to watch will vary by geographic location. Netflix will use technologies to verify your geographic location."

            You agreed to that.

              Netflix will use technologies to verify your geographic location.

              They're doing that and still letting me watch it, so all good :) Once they decide to stop letting me watch it then I'll cancel my subscription and keep my money.

              It's a strange industry that has its business model based on making it as difficult as possible for people to give you money. One might even call it unsustainable.

              Didn't Sony lose a big region locking case in Australia?

            Braaains "How is me streaming Netflix from the US any different than ordering a BluRay disc from Amazon US"
            Because streaming is "broadcasting/public performance" which is regulated by law in each country, unlike playing a BluRay in your living room.
            Geoblocks exist to prevent companies being prosecuted.
            It's not just about copyright licenses.
            "Pink Flamingos" was refused classification in Australia.
            If Netflix "broadcasts" it here, they could be prosecuted.
            You can only broadcast films with the appropriate classification notices, which vary from country to country.
            A film rated 18+ in one country could be 15+ in another or be banned altogether.

      There is nothing "illegal" at all about using a VPN to bypass geoblocks. Anyone pushing that line is encouraging *real* piracy, which is what people will go back to.

      I agree with you. Hollywood needs to realise that actual people paying real money are not the enemy. It didn't take long (only about 5 years) for the music industry to wake up to this, so why not Hollywood?

      You try to do the right thing, so actors get paid, and this is how you get treated?

      Nobody is going to pay $12 to rent 2 movies anymore, when that's what it costs to watch unlimited movies for a whole month.

      Last edited 05/01/15 9:11 am

    With just 48 hours notice sony managed to make more than 20 million from the interview.
    Imagine if they gave 3 - 4 weeks notice.. I totally woulda sat down on christmas or new years to stream that bad boy with a few brewskies

      There was all the hype of the potential the movie wouldnt see the light of day though...

      I tried to legit buy it on google play and youtube, gave me the old "only available in the US" soooo i just torrented it.

      They dont even want our money.

        Yep same. Wanted to buy it legit. Thats on them now.

          Why on earth buy it at all, it is B grade dreck. This whole charade is a viral marketing ploy to deflect another wave of lawsuits after yet another hack. They have a serious security breach every year. I suppose you have every Katy Perry song too ?

        Oh I didn't legit it either.. I tried.. just like you..

        THATS $18 you lose sony.. and it sounds like you are about to need that cash..

      They would have made less with more notice they made a shut movie and the threat to pull it was a publicity stunt

    Fine, if you won't let me pay for content, I won't. I'm more than happy to throw money at Netflix and Hulu so that content providers get paid, but the harder they make it to do that, the less inclined I am to do so.

    Casual piracy will drop significantly if access and fair pricing is implemented. Why this concept is so hard to understand is beyond me.

      I don't pirate music anymore.

      There are excellent paid services available throughout most of the world.

      TV & Movies are another story.

      Last edited 05/01/15 9:14 am

        I don't pirate music anymore.

        This. 100 times over, I dont know anyone who does anymore, none of my friends or family, everyone uses one of the many services availble, either free or paid.

        The only reason the rest of the entertainment industry doesn't get this is exclusivity agreements which leads to, and more importantly, greediness.

          Not sure how valid this is. Hundreds of people work for months on a single movie. A few people can work for weeks on a song. There are big differences in the fat of the distributors for movie and music. Music had SO much cream on top.
 I said, not sure. Maybe they are the same after all

            So what about the gaming industry which has had digital distribution down pat for years! Mind you customers still do not "own" a game when purchased through a digital store. I think that part stinks.

            One entertainment industry is just the same as the next and they all share the same percentage of everyone's pocket.

      Since Netflix I barely download TBH.. there is just no need.. I have millions of shows to watch and im discovering shows I would never have known.. TGIN

    I'm confused, you're now saying its illegal to pay for content?

      No, by all means pay for it.
      Just don't use it.

      (Note: geoblock bypassing isn't illegal, but it is against the Netflix T&C and many content providers would love it to be illegal).

    Its not pirating nor is it illegal, it doesn’t violate any copyright law.

    My guess is because netflix is launching here in april, they have been told by the government to "clean up their act" or face fines.

    As soon as they start offering their service here they can be touched by our laws and regulations. (just my guess, im not a lawyer)

      I don't think the government really cares either way - I'd say it's the studios that are pushing for strict enforcement of licenses so they can protect their absurd regional pricing.

      No its because shows that they play in the us are licensed to different networks here.

      No.. they will dump subscriptions there because then they want people to subscribe here.. So as soon as (or a week before) they launch in AUSthey will block us from USA because now they know they can get an AUS pay check

    Jesus fucking christ, is the whole world run by monumental retards? So i'm now, as a paying customer a filthy content stealing pirate, do you want my money or not Netflix?

    So what now, block access to every paying customer who uses a VPN and then what? complain that there is a rise in the number of people torrenting, geez i wonder what has caused that.

      Maybe they want it in Netflix Australia when it launches. Allowing people to use VPNs to access Netflix in the US means Netflix can't readily have things like regional pricing which could work out very well for them.

      Another possibility is that the companies licensing content to them are leaning on them, but I like the conspiracy theory more.

      Use that same VPN to pirate more than you ever did before.

      If everybody starts doing that, perhaps the message will finally get through?

    Once again the MPAA screws over paying customers to protect their obsolete, 20th Century revenue model. I've been paying for Netflix for about a year and a half now, but apparently that means I'm just as much of a "pirate" as someone who torrents content for free. Well then Hollywood, let me offer a rebuke: F*CK YOU, YOU GREEDY F*CKS.

    Seriously, why can't these outdated d*ckheads get it through their thick skulls? The market has changed. You cannot continue to operate a 20th Century distribution model in the modern, instantaneous world of the internet. People aren't willing to pay twice as much or wait twice as long for content purely because of their location. If you make it hard for them, they're going to start taking it through illegal means. All this Netflix blocking will do is drive people back to piracy, and rightly so.

      I really don't understand why these pricks can't just try 'not being ****s' for like, five fucking minutes.

      As they order a Ferrari before it gets to the USA..
      Then they tell us to wait for movies to arrive 3 months later.

    I actually want to pay for content BUT I don't want to be ripped off or be offered an inferior service.

    It's not rocket science.

    Instead of blaming consumers for looking at VPN services to access Netflix, Hulu or seeking out pirated content why doesn't the MPAA, government, studios, media empires look at themselves? Some of the previous articles I've seen with surveys only focus on telling the stories they want to tell as opposed to the simple motivating factors: We want access, on-time and at a fair price.

    I know it hasn't happened for other Netflix launched regions but I wonder if Australia will be the first. After all, it may just be too darn good not to block AU->US users and have them instead pay for Netflix AU with a nice Australia tax mark-up and expect us to be grateful we finally have 'legal' Netflix in Australia.

    Regardless, I'd rather pay for Netflix AU->US than look at other sources but if they're going to make that difficult then they lose my business, full stop. I haven't been interested in QuickFlix/FoxtelGo etc. because I find their offering currently inferior to what's available elsewhere.

    Probably cancel my netflix sub then. Congratulations to the film industry I guess.

    Now, see... here's the thing. We don't actually HAVE to pay for content. We're supposed to, but there's nothing actually forcing us to. So if we don't want to... we don't have to.

    So what we've got is a system enjoying the revenue of the goodwill of people who don't have to give it any money at all... and spitting in their faces.

    It's difficult to see pretty much any possible scenario in which this might be considered a good idea.

    I'm guessing they are going to force us onto Australian version of Netflix come March, we will pay twice as much for 10% of the content.
    Guess I'll go back to using my unRAID server.

      From what I have heard the cost won't be much more than you already pay. Stan seems to have a similar pricing structure.

      I am happy to pay twice as much - but I am not happy to only receive 10% of the content.

    At least with the terrible anti-piracy/data retention laws being pushed through those who have to unsubscribe from Netflix and go back to pirating will know how to cover their tracks.

    I'm another dirty Netflix geo-pirate I guess. There is nothing illegal about doing this. It is outside Netflix Ts & Cs sure but not illegal. So Netflix has the right to block us but I would imagine they would have to be under serious pressure to consider it. If they bring their service here and provide just as good content for a similar price point then that's fine. If they come here with nothing and charge twice as much then they can go take a running jump.

    Have a look at Quickflix though. The streaming service was pretty average when they started it a few years back but it is getting much better now. They charge for premium content but their regular streaming service is on a par with Netflix for around the same price. They could be the winner here.

      There won't be any winners here. Those 200,000 (give or take) people who have been happily paying their money every month for US Netflix aren't going to happily jump over to the Australian service at a higher price with less content than they're used to. And nor will they be particularly impressed with the offering of Quickflix - it may be better than is used to be, but that's not saying much and it's nowhere near the same standard as US Netflix. For those people who are accustomed to the US Netflix, going from that to Australian Netflix or Quickflix will be like swapping a nice, new BMW for a 1998 Daewoo Lanos.

      A very large percentage of those current Netflix subscribers in Australia are just going to keep their money in their pockets, resulting in less money overall going to Netflix and to the owners of the content.

        Owch! you lanos'd us... dude that's harsh.. aint no one wanna get Daewoo on their hands..

    Quickflix will not be the winner of anything. The market analysis has them at above 90% probability of going bankrupt in the next 12 months. I'm shocked they're not already dead and buried.

    The only thing that can save Quickflix is if Netflix or a local service raids them for any exclusive agreements they may have in place. Netflix would be smart to buy them out just for their mail order business, because there's no other game in town on that front.

    So then why is netflix still happily processing Australian credit cards? a simple Geo blocking sign up service on credit card processing would work in this instance, but the fact is they don't do this on purpose to allow people like Australian to sign up. They get our money without needing to alter their service at all, no local servers / cdn etc.

    As much I have enjoyed my netflix subscription for the last 3 years and happily paid for it. This annoys me a lot as its basically being done due to Foxtels strong hold on the rights to content. Netflix Australia will ultimately suck. It will have half the content of the US version and even then there will be certain titles that won't appear on it until Free to air TV runs have ended.

    it's almost as if they'd be better off just staying out of Aus, letting us continue on as we currently are, but get some local hardware to speed things up.

    You might want to update the article with the response from Netflix, they haven't changed anything, people having issues probably have a setup issue or VPN issue. Mine is still working fine.

    Didn't torrent freak hear from Netflix and they advised they haven't changed their policy at all?

    So 200,000+ Australians are currently paying $8.99/mo for Netflix and they're 'cracking down'? $1.2M/mo. I don't think so.

    It's because shows they play in the us are licensed to different networks here. thats why they're doing it. It's to stop them getting in trouble. Nothing to do with out dated business models and everything to do with law. They're trying to open our markets by moving here and everyone who doesn't understand how these systems work play oh poor me so hard done by.

    Great idea Netflix!

    You know those VPNs that people are using to watch (and pay for) movies and TV shows on Netflix can also be used to download movies and TV shows for free!

    I say win win!

    I agree with Braaains.

    However, recently I have been sailing on the high seas in my small wooden vessel made from driftwood and on the horizon I can see the nuclear powered SS Dallas Buyers Club cruising along armed with plasma cannons and Tomahawk Anti Ship Missiles.

    I think it could be time to batten down the hatches

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