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Content Holders, Netflix Have Different Solutions to VPN Problem

Posted by: , 16:50 AEDT, Fri March 27, 2015

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Content holders wants ban on VPNs, while Netflix wants global licensing so VPNs are no longer needed
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Image/Photo Credit: Netflix

The Australian government's ongoing copyright consultation on changes to the country's copyright laws has brought to the spotlight the issue of VPNs, often used by users in the country to bypass regional restrictions on services like Netflix.

The government has been pressuring ISPs in particular to act on the piracy issue, which resulted in the creation of an industry code of conduct. The code calls for a three-strikes style regime that warns users they have been caught downloading pirated content.

However, submissions from content holders have criticized the draft code for failing to deal with the issue of bypassing geographical restrictions, often put in place by content holders in order to extract higher licensing fees from local broadcasters.

For example, the BBC, in their submission, specifically mentioned the issue of geo-unblocking and asked for more to be done on the issue.

"The Code is ill-equipped [to] deal with consumers who spoof or mask their IP addresses to avoid detection, behaviour that we believe will increase as a result of an introduction of a notice scheme," the BBC wrote in their submission.

It is unknown what kind of action content holders like the BBC would like the government, or industries, to take - whether this could mean the banning of VPN style services in Australia or not.

Netflix, on the other hand, has a different take on the issue. The company too wants to put an end to the use of VPNs, but not by legislative or technical measures, but by making them obsolete.

Speaking to Gizmodo, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings says that users who use VPNs are not a real concern for the company, as compared to pirates, these users at least are willing to pay for content. But the same problem of access, according to Hastings, is also one of the causes of the piracy problem and if the issue of access is addressed, then the VPN problem, and even piracy itself, can be solved.

"The key thing about piracy is that some fraction of it is because [users] couldn't get the content. That part we can fix," says Netflix's CEO. "The basic solution is for Netflix to get global and have its content be the same all around the world so there’s no incentive to [use a VPN]. Then we can work on the more important part which is piracy."

The call for a global licensing scheme has been increasing in volume, with the EU recently calling for the abolishing of geographical restrictions, which has been labeled as "discrimination" against paying users.


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