Australian Broadcasters, Netflix Competitors Pout Because Netflix Hasn't Banned VPN Users Yet
from the give-the-people-what-they-want dept
Australia has a long and proud history of seeing higher copyright infringement rates, thanks in large part to the country’s failure to offer up legitimate, affordable streaming video options. With Netflix officially unavailable Down Under, many viewers there have taken things into their own hands and have started using VPNs to mask their location and subscribe to the service anyway. Cue the rising hysteria from both broadcasters and Australian Netflix competitors, who insist that something has to be done about this flagrant outrage. They’re helped by regional paper The Australian, which suggests that these paying users are “pirates”:
“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…”There is concern at local networks about the growing impact of the US company flouting international regulations by accepting payments from Australian credit cards, despite maintaining a geo-block that is easily bypassed by VPN manipulation or spoof IP addresses,” the paper said.”
Granted, if companies were delivering what users wanted, this wouldn’t even be an issue. In fact, that would seem to be a much easier solution to this “problem.” Instead, broadcasters and Australian streaming provider Quickflix (HBO is an 8% owner) seem to think it would make more sense to force Netflix to ban the use of a very common technology that has innumerable uses well outside of just skirting regional limitations. Some users, for example, are finding that VPNs are one (albeit sometimes inefficient) way to bypass some of the annoying new peering feuds erupting here in the States. Still, Quickfix thinks somebody really should force Netflix to start blocking VPNs before the country starts falling apart:
“Quickflix chief executive Stephen Langsford has accused US online streaming service Netflix of turning a blind eye to copyright infringement in order to get a free ride in Australia, as competition heats up in the TV and movie streaming market…”The studios have licensed Netflix to distribute content on particular terms in the US and other larger markets, they haven’t licensed Netflix for Australia. I have no doubt that the studios are in discussions with Netflix about VPNs because it is blatantly in breach of terms and Netflix is essentially getting a free ride into Australia.”
It seems like only a matter of time before proxies and VPNs see a renewed focus as public enemy number one by the entertainment industry. Most of the world’s graduated response programs, including ours here in the States, can’t detect users who are using proxies and VPNs at all. With Australia now contemplating a graduated response program of their own, you can expect the vilification of VPNs to ramp up quickly, even though any laws restricting their use would be met with swift and steep opposition.
Netflix hasn’t stated why they’ve yet to head to Australia yet, but it’s either because they want to prioritize larger international markets, or they’re having a hard time securing content licensing from Australian broadcasters. Until Netflix does show up Down Under, Australian cable operators like Foxtel are engaged in the kind of brilliant anti-piracy maneuvers we’ve grown used to, such as locking down HBO’s Game of Thrones in an exclusive streaming and download arrangement. Surely that will stop copyright infringement of what’s become the most pirated show on the Internet, right?