If you have been accessing Netflix via VPN there might be a reason to worry. The on-demand service is planning to block access through VPN from many countries, especially Australia.
Netflix was recently launched in more than 180 countries – it was recently launched in India also – but a main problem with it is that all the content is not universally available. For example, the content that is available to US, Canada and England, is not available in other countries where Netflix has just been launched. There are logistical problems as well as licensing restrictions, according to this blog.
So what do people do? In order to watch movies and TV shows that are not available in their regions, they use virtual private networks to unblock the Netflix website and access all the content over there. Beginning with Australia, the company is about to block access through VPN and other such services so that the content that is specifically available in that particular region is accessed rather than all sort of access for which the license for that particular region hasn’t been obtained yet.
Should Netflix block access through VPN?
It depends on the philosophy you subscribe to. It is a rhetorical question because if the company plans to block access through VPN then it is anyway going to do that whether we like it or not. There are many people who support piracy because it makes software available to those who otherwise wouldn’t have been either able to afford the software and hence avail its benefits, or simply would have restricted themselves to inferior software, feeling discouraged with technology in general. The same people who are using pirated software are switching to legal software because they can see the benefits.
The same can be applied to Netflix and other such websites. If they block access through VPN and other services – ideally people shouldn’t need “workarounds” to access the main website – many people will know what sort of content is available and hence will not feel encouraged to subscribe to the service or continue their subscription. Many people, especially in the countries where the on-demand video streaming service has just been launched, will feel that not much content is available and hence would discontinue after the free trial. Until they can make all the content accessible everywhere, they shouldn’t block access through VPN so that at least people get an idea of the length and breadth of the variety available was the service is fully available.
They may have to block access through VPN and other such tactics because, as mentioned above, they would get into legal trouble from all the production houses who charge a licensing fee. Plus, the company may also have to incur lots of bandwidth costs because the content is being accessed from regions that shouldn’t be accessing it.