Netflix VPN users may be in trouble as the online movie provider has announced its plans to block proxies that allow users to get around its content licensing restrictions.
Users often use VPN proxies to skirt geographic content blocks that allow viewers from one country to appear as if they are in another country, giving them access to sites and content that they normally wouldn’t be able to see.
Netflix-aimed VPNs and proxies are immensely popular since viewers spread across different countries want unrestricted access to a larger content library. The U.S. version of Netflix, for example, offers over a thousand TV shows and almost 5,000 films higher than that of Australian or New Zealand versions.
Netflix has now plans to crackdown on those circumventing their geographic restrictions with an intent to please the content creators whose deals include restrictions to stream movies and series only in agreed-upon countries. David Fullagar, Netflix?s vice president for content delivery architecture, in a company blog post said that ?in coming weeks, those using proxies and unblockers will only be able to access the service in the country where they currently are.?
The company recognizes that ?if all of our content were globally available, there wouldn?t be a reason for members to use proxies or ?unblockers? to fool our systems into thinking they?re in a different country than they?re actually in.?
Netflix further said they were making progress in licensing content across the world but that would take a lot of time, so in the meantime, they will continue to respect and enforce content licensing by geographic location.
However, according to an Stuff.co.nz article, several Internet experts argue that any total shutdown would be impossible.
“It’s kind of a cat and mouse game,” said InternetNZ CEO Jordan Carter, who added “Each step that Netflix or other content providers take to block things, the companies that make money by selling unblocking services will find a way around it. It turns this into an arms race.”
So even if Netflix does manage to block a single VPN or proxy server’s IP address, those services could change their own address just as easily.
Furthermore, even if they manage to shut down the whole services, others are likely to replace them in a matter of days. The services that charge money for VPN access have a clear motive to get around any Netflix restriction, as their entire business model is built on giving users? access to blocked content.
Netflix product manager Neil Hunt also acknowledged the futility of such attempts saying it was “trivial” for services to evade any blacklist. Wired has said such efforts may even backfire on the company when consumers from a different country won?t be able to watch the shows and films that they were able to view earlier.
Also, fewer consumers may sign up to pay for the service in their home country especially if the offerings are worse than what a user could have accessed via VPN. The crackdown could instead encourage more piracy of both Netflix and Hollywood?s content when users would make use of torrent sites to access blocked content.