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Canadian Media Boss Labels Own Daughter as 'Thief' for Netflix Geo-Dodging

Posted by: , 20:11 AEST, Sat June 6, 2015

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Bell Media president horrified her own daughter is a "Netflix thief", for accessing US Netflix from Canada
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Image/Photo Credit: Netflix

he new president of Canadian telecom giant Bell Media has labelled her own daughter a "thief" for watching US Netflix content in Canada via a VPN. Mary Ann Turcke has since banned her daughter from using VPN services, and has also criticized Netflix for not doing more to stop this kind of usage.

Turcke explains that her daughter one day excitedly told her that she had found a way to watch US Netflix and access much more content than what's available on Canada's own Netflix service. Instead of praising her daughter for her ingenuity, or lamenting the current state of media licensing and how certain countries, such as Canada, are treated as second class citizens when it comes to content - paying more for essentially much less - Turcke instead decided to reprimand her daughter for "stealing" content.

Telling her story at the Canadian Telecom Summit, Turcke was in no doubt that geo-doging, as some calls it, is a crime and needs to be stopped. Without providing any valid reasons as to why Canadians can't access the same content as their US neighbours, Turcke instead says the problem is one of attitude, where too many people aren't aware or don't care that their VPN actions are "unacceptable".

"It takes behavioral change and it is the people — friend to friend, parent to child, coworker to coworker — that set the cultural framework for acceptable and unacceptable behaviour," said Turcke.

"It has to become socially unacceptable to admit to another human being that you are VPNing into U.S. Netflix. Like throwing garbage out of your car window, you just don't do it. We have to get engaged and tell people they're stealing."

Turcke doesn't lay all the blame at the feet of users like her daughter though, Netflix, Turcke says, is also responsible by not enough to stop users crossing borders. 

"As an industry, the players up and down the value chain can't allow Netflix to continue doing what they're doing, and Netflix has a choice to stop it. This is a business model decision on Netflix's part. It's not a technical problem," says Turcke.

Not all agree with Turcke's assertions. Ottawa intellectual property lawyer Howard Knopf says that VPN usage isn't any different to driving to the US on a shopping trip to take advantage of cheaper prices (or vice versa).

"This is another manifestation of that good old Canadian phenomenon known as cross-border shopping in a free market," says Knopf.

"Some Canadian rights owners and licensees seem to think it's smart to limit Canadian choice and raise Canadian prices. Maybe they are being shortsighted or greedy but that's what they try to do."


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