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Netflix Is Cracking Down On Pirating, Here Are The Details

Remember when stealing cable television by way of rewiring was a big deal? Netflix is apparently starting to take a stand on the modern version of that consumer crime, as they’ll be banning “location piracy” for international subscribers who are getting access to other country’s versions of Netflix illegally. Sorry, foreigners whose 2015 resolutions included binge-watching all of Friends.

Using VPNs (virtual private networks), which allows changes to be made for a user’s geo-location information, streamers the world over can gain access to Netflix anywhere else, which is a big deal since each country’s streaming content is different. As you can imagine, this is less a gallant effort from Netflix and more an aggressive demand from movie studios, whose licensing agreements turn moot once everything is available to everyone. Plus, entertainment media in other countries that do have access to certain studios’ films are damaged because their would-be customers are already getting their fix with Netflix. There are no winners here, other than the people watching whatever they want, I guess.

Netflix appears to be tackling the problem slowly at first, according to TorrentFreak, with a more widespread solution coming soon. Recent updates for the Android Netflix app started forcing Google DNS, which screws with anyone using DNS location unblockers, and a fixed amount of VPN IP-ranges were also put in the spotlight. But we can probably expect iOS systems to implement this in the future, as well as a host of other tricks that require viewers’ specific location to be recognized. One of those tactics reportedly matches a device’s time zone with whatever time zone the viewer is supposed to be in. I’m waiting for the one where they make people take a picture of themselves with that day’s newspaper from their location.

Though Netflix isn’t going public with this information just yet, problematic reports have popped up across the web, with VPN provider TorGuard’s Ben Van der Pelt saying there was an influx of trouble starting in December. Because the geo-pirates aren’t being banned completely just yet, many users have found workarounds to help them out. But what’ll happen when Netflix pulls out the big guns? TorGuard, Unblock-us and several other services are going to continue figuring out ways to get around Netflix’s policies, which is the cyber-circle of life, really.

Considering this ban could lead to a noticeable drop in subscriptions, it is to ponder just how beefed up Netflix’s anti-piracy measures will get. I guess having studio execs breathing down one’s neck – the same movie execs who make the bonkers-big deals with Netflix for streaming rights in the first place – is a good motivation to clear the air of any foul feelings. I mean, how else are people supposed to watch Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit?

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.