Netflix has confirmed it is going to get cracking down on VPN and other tricks that are used to bypass to get access to region-locked content. The online content streaming company released a sparsely worded, seemingly vague statement that didn’t seem to promise any new techniques to content providers to ensure their content was viewed in pre-selected countries only.
With Netflix vastly expanding its availability to 130 additional countries, the online content streaming company announced that it stepping up its attempts at cracking down on VPN and other bypass tricks like proxy servers that are regularly used by its subscribers who aren’t based in the United States. With an extensively splintered state of content licensing, Netflix has to strike individual deals pertaining to content licensing from its content providers for each of the country in which it is now legally accessible.
These licensing agreements are certainly cumbersome for Netflix. However, quite a few of its subscribers in many countries, have been regularly using Virtual Private Networks or VPNs and other techniques like proxy servers to access content that’s restricted in their country by the licensing agreements. The prevalence of such techniques is so common, using VPNs to access Netflix in restricted countries is referred to as “Netflix tourism,” or sampling content purportedly restricted in your area, reported DSL Reports.
While the streaming company announced the expansion of Netflix availability in 130 new countries, its executive Neil Hunt added that the company will crack down on systems that allow consumers to trick the service into showing content from other countries. Though the company’s renewed resolve may appear chivalrous, the company isn’t saying anything new, that is hasn’t said in the past. The company’s statement read the following.
“Some members use proxies or ‘unblockers’ to access titles available outside their territory. To address this, we employ the same or similar measures other firms do. This technology continues to evolve and we are evolving with it. That means in coming weeks, those using proxies and unblockers will only be able to access the service in the country where they currently are. We are confident this change won’t impact members not using proxies.”
While Netflix has promised that those using VPNs or proxy servers to access content won’t be able to do so in the future, it hasn’t confirmed any new methods it has devised or adopted to curb the practice. Moreover, it hasn’t stated that its current methods work. One of the only ways to address the situation is a uniform content licensing agreement that will allow Netflix to stream the content anywhere the service is legally available.
Incidentally, Netflix has repeatedly reiterated its commitment to establish uniform content licensing across all of the 190 countries it is now legally available in. However, by the company’s own admission, such a goal may take anywhere between 10 and 20 years. Speaking on the topic, Netflix’s Vice President of Content Delivery Architecture David Fullagar said the following in a blog post.
“Netflix is making progress in licensing content across the world, but we have a ways to go before we can offer people the same films and TV series everywhere…. We look forward to offering all of our content everywhere and to consumers being able to enjoy all of Netflix without using a proxy.”
It is quite apparent that subscribers of Netflix are quite frustrated by a “discriminatory patchwork of global content availability,” shared Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos. Interestingly, as Netflix scales up production of its own content, the company is working towards avoiding the licensing issue or at the least, minimizing it.
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