How Netflix Is Cracking Down On Piracy

Netflix is available in a slew of countries worldwide now, but if you think you are getting the exact same content as those living in other countries, you would be very wrong. Many subscribers have been using Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to access content that is restricted in their respective countries. However, Netflix is finally making good on its promise to force users to quit using the VPNs, starting in recent days. Here's how the subscription streaming service has started cracking down.  

Those who are using VPN’s have been getting error messages from Netflix, according to ghacks. When a VPN is detected, the service will cut to a black screen and an error message will pop up that looks like this:

You seem to be using an unblocker or proxy. Please turn off any of these services and try again. For more help, visit

The messages started popping up just a few days ago. Reports indicate those who have been using unblocker and VPN services are having problems, including but not limited to: AppVPN, Betternet, ExpressVPN, Mediahint, Private Internet Access, Tunnelbear and Zenmate. 

A couple of months ago, Netflix stated the company had plans in the works to make sure users could only access the content that is currently available in the region “where they are.” Netflix also said at the time that the company has been working to create better licensing deals so the user experience worldwide can continue to get better in multiple areas. However, as it currently stands, the streaming service is restricted by copyright holders in different regions and must do what it can to abide by the rules and restrictions that the company is dealing with from country to country. 

One way that Netflix has been able to combat having different user experiences in different regions is by growing its original content portfolio. Original programming like Narcos and Marvel's Daredevil, not to mention House of Cards, can be viewed by subscribers around the globe--and in different languages in many cases. The same is not true of shows and movies the streaming service licenses through complex deals in different geographic regions.  

Obviously, this one cuts back on pirating content that you should not be getting in your own region. Netflix programming can still be released via other illegal means, like Pirate Bay or even Periscope. But this should theoretically keep the streaming services from coming under scrutiny for allowing users to totally disregard the complex contracts that are in place with the streaming deals. 

If you’ve been inadvertently getting the error message while using your Netflix service, there is a help page over at Netflix that encourages users to set their devices to “automatic” so that the streaming service can easily detect what region a subscriber is in. Likely, however, if you are getting the error message, you know exactly why. 

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Reality TV fan with a pinch of Disney fairy dust thrown in. Theme park junkie. If you’ve created a rom-com I’ve probably watched it.