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Netflix Denies There Was a Policy Change With VPNs 67

Dangerous_Minds writes "The other day, Slashdot linked to a TorrentFreak story saying that Netflix was cracking down on VPN users. But PCMag has a story that quotes a Netflix spokesperson saying that there was no change in their policy on VPNs. Freezenet also did some digging around and found very few reports saying there were VPN access issues and even more reports from users say that their VPN solution is working for the time being."
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Netflix Denies There Was a Policy Change With VPNs

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  • by houghi ( 78078 ) on Monday January 05, 2015 @11:18AM (#48736447)

    Does not mean they won't do it in the future. Especially when they are starting up in different countries.
    Although it also might be that they will be able to cut through the bullshit and just show their shows all over the world at the same time. They might have the leverage.

    • by TWX ( 665546 ) on Monday January 05, 2015 @11:37AM (#48736619)
      It's not really in Netflix's interest to bust people for doing it anyway, especially if they can truly claim ignorance of the scale of it. After all, restricting countries by IP address could be considered reasonable, plus they get the revenue of the subscriptions that they might not otherwise have if people in those countries specifically signed up for Netflix in order to do this.

      It probably won't happen unless content owners sue.
      • Unless Netflix is furnishing them with access logs.. They have no idea how many people are circumventing the access controls deployed by Netflix... And in the end Netflix doesn't care if people do as long as the courts agree Netflix is taking reasonable measures to restrict content to the licensed region..

      • I guess I'm missing something. Why would anyone need or want to use a VPN to connect to Netflix?
        • Content availability on Netflix varies drastically in different regions due to licensing restrictions imposed by the publishers and rights holders for the movies and shows they have on their service. For example, if you access Netflix in America there is considerably more content available than if you access it from Canada, although there is some content available in Canada not available in America. It's a bit of a mess but it all works on Netflix's end by matching your IP address to a specific region rath
        • I guess I'm missing something. Why would anyone need or want to use a VPN to connect to Netflix?

          Let's say that I normally live in the USA and I have a Netflix subscription. If I travel to Europe, and I want to stream a movie from Netflix, I am out of luck.

          Or, hypothetically, I share my subscription with a family member who doesn't live in the USA.

          • Ah, thank you all for the explanations.

            I didn't realize Netflix was now outside the US at all.

            • They have just started a service in Australia and probably view Australian customers of US netflix as competition they don't want. So they have started to clamp down on VPNs

            • by Anonymous Coward

              Yes I forgot. America, the only country in the world that matters...... to Americans. You should probably travel a bit. There's a great big world out there outside of 'Murica.

          • VM at home + NoMachine = using Netflix from anywhere without the need of VPN.

        • by Bengie ( 1121981 )
          Some ISPs have a congested connection to Netflix and VPN is many times an alternative uncongested route.
      • It probably won't happen unless content owners sue.

        Or the contracts come up for renewal and the content owners require netflix to agree to more explicit terms about what exactly they will do to minimise out-of-region users come renewal time.

      • It is in their best interests to have the impression that they are complying, and the plausibility that they are, so that content owners continue to maintain licence agreements with them, and don't sue or would have a hard time proving that Netflix isn't doing as much as it should be doing to prohibit access where required. That said, it is also in their best interest to do the bare minimum so as to allow some users to do this if they really want to so as to keep using the service.

        Last year for example in C

  • What, you mean TorrentFreak isn't a valid source of journalism that checks sources and facts before reporting something?


  • Note that they didn't deny proxy blocking also reported in the ./ article. As it stands now, per their own exclusion, Netflix allows PAID fastlanes such as VPNs for users who already have to pay subscription AND Internet service, but they will not allow the much more convenient and free neutrality circumvention that proxies allow. This reeks of hipocrisy and/or a media stunt to shunt their own mistakes, and of a very nice deal to cash in with popular VPN services. Or at the very least not to fall on their w
    • by Guspaz ( 556486 )

      Please explain how proxies are more convenient or "free" than a VPN. Neither tend to be free, and VPNs tend to be more convenient than proxies in that many VPNs come with an application that has a handy on/off switch, while proxies typically require you to change your browser proxy settings every time you want to use netflix.

      • Please explain how proxies are more convenient or "free" than a VPN. Neither tend to be free, and VPNs tend to be more convenient than proxies in that many VPNs come with an application that has a handy on/off switch, while proxies typically require you to change your browser proxy settings every time you want to use netflix.

        Please explain how proxies and VPNs are different.
        (Hint: They're not - they're both just routes.)

        • The real distinction is "partial coverage" vs "full coverage".

          AIUI there have been soloutions that divert the authentication/setup traffic via a US ISP but still allow the bulk traffic to flow directly between the user and the netflix CDN. Presumablly this works because the CDN servers don't re-check the geo blocking. This is much cheaper than diverting everything through a proxy or VPN but also much easier for netflix to stop if they decide to do so.

          • This is exactly what I meant. They are allowing a fastlane with VPN's (which are usually paid), much like they don't want ISP's to force them to pay. But they will block proxies which are, unlike Guspaz said, usually free, and will only route part of the traffic. I think they are saving face with these comments: VPN's are usually associated with freedom rights and private internet usage in problematic countries, say China, while proxies are most commonly knwon for basic circumvention of commercial region l
        • Proxy is loading your traffic through someone else's server. Only proxy aware and configured applications will communicate through the proxy.

          VPN sets up an encrypted tunnel allowing your computer to be located at a different node when connecting to the internet. Virtually moving your PC to their network. All of your traffic will normally pass through that encrypted tunnel.

  • technology! (Score:2, Insightful)

    It's almost as if VPN providers didn't build their services to stream 200GB of bandwidth per month for some jackass paying $9.99 and would ban those types of bandwidth hogs from their service. You know, back in reality they do that. In fantasy land, apparently EVERYONE is using VPNs and proxies to stream perfect quality HD content and it's an epidemic.
    • by ddtmm ( 549094 )
      I wouldn't call those jackasses bandwidth hogs (or jackasses). They are paying a rate set by the VPN provider and that's that. If the VPN provider wasn't making money they would up the rates, or cap bandwidth. They're doing neither. Bandwidth usage is not as expensive as the providers would like you to think. In Canada the the big ISPs (Rogers, Bell..) are mandated to provide wholesale service to smaller resellers (e.g. to increase competition and choice. Resellers are able to resell the exact
    • by adolf ( 21054 )

      I use a VPN provider which does not care what I do with it, or how much data I transfer. They guarantee 4Mbps, minimum, of symmetric bandwidth availability. They actively encourage people to use the service as they see fit, and even offer (quite slow) services for free to people living in very restrictive jurisdictions.

      And it's cheaper than $9.99/month.

    • by Bengie ( 1121981 )
      The difference between the bandwidth prices for some datacenters is not because bandwidth is expensive, but because they pay a premium to be directly peered with thousands of networks. Really, some datacenters have 4+ transit providers and have direct connections to over 1,000 different high profile networks. You're not paying for "bandwidth", you're paying for high quality, low latency, highly resilient bandwidth.

      There are plenty of datacenters that offer cheap bandwidth that does doesn't come with 10ms
  • Words and meanings (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DarkOx ( 621550 ) on Monday January 05, 2015 @11:28AM (#48736553) Journal

    Netflix spokesperson saying that there was no change in their policy on VPNs.

    Might very well be true, but that statement says nothing about the frequency of enforcement; which might have changed.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      This. Read between the lines, all the policy they could ever need will already be in place somewhere in the fine print. If/when the milkers of imaginary property pressure them more, they still won't need to change policy.

      > "We use industry standard methods to block VPNs. Always have and always will," a Netflix spokesman said,

      They're doing lip service, but much like the ISPs hounded into sending out angry letters to torrent swarms, they're not really interested in actively (and at expense) cannibal
      • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

        Oh I am sure this is the case, to a degree. I was just pointing out that their statement was basically meaningless.

        To your point however, Netflix has more incentive to comply than the ISP did/do. In the case of the content industry vs. ISPs:

        The ISPs just need to do enough to avoid legal responsibility. They had basically two options, they could claim to be common carriers and just say "we don't wiretap" so we don't know and are not responsible for what's on our network. Doing so would have limited their

  • by Jason Pollock ( 45537 ) on Monday January 05, 2015 @11:33AM (#48736587) Homepage

    The quote is this:

            "We use industry standard methods to block VPNs. Always have and always will"

    They're just fixing the bug.

  • Just like Hulu, in a concession to content providers who are paranoid that someone from Qatar might use VPN to watch Family Guy if Hulu didn't pay for the licensing rights.

    Netflix is the same. People from banned countries use VPN to make it seem they are in the US to watch content.

    Solution is simply to get 10 people to buy in on a small hosted server in the US and run your own proxy. Small enough to avoid detection and people can still watch Family guy

    • No the solution is to realize that the internet is designed to route around failures, and not being able to get content is seen as a failure. The only thing that this is actually doing is making it more difficult for legitimate users wanting legitimate content from getting it. They will route around the problem until the internet is broken by people who don't know how the internet actually works.

    • by johanw ( 1001493 )

      Too much hassle. If the copyright maffia doesn't want my money, fine, then I'll just torrent the movies and series.

  • I had issues with Hola on my Android, which got resolved after an upgrade of Hola itself. After that it got broken somehow again, where Netflix is unable to see a network connection. That then got resolved again by rebooting the device.

    On my main desktop I've not seen any issues.

    So I think this is an isolated issue where certain things broke as opposed to Netflix being responsible.

    One of the things that make me quite convinced of that is that I still get the nice 'You're watching Netflix from a different co

  • Even if the statement is that their policy hasn't changed, that doesn't say that their policy allows VPN access, according to a CNET article:

    "We say very specifically that VPNs violate the terms of our service, and we believe very much so that anybody who licenses content should get paid for their content," he said. "We hear a lot in every market about this, and what we tend to find too is that, after launch, these issues drop significantly."

    -- CNET []

    The reason it might still be working for many is that they

  • "The Pirate Bay is dead!"

    Yet the site is alive and something new is coming down the pipeline.

    "Netflix is blocking VPNs!"

    Have not and likely wil not.

    Quit fucking reporting TorrentFreak stories.

  • Torrentfreak being wrong. There's a surprise. I swear they break out a box of tissues every time they hear a rumour and can't waste to post it as fact.
  • Netflix has ensured that every user who reads the news (or facebook) now has the correct string of words to google in order to get around the country code restrictions mandated by netflix's contracts with content owners.

    I predict a surge in "netflix vpn how" google searches
    followed by netflix "negotiations" with content owners to relax country restrictions that "obviously don't even work"
  • Of course it's not a policy change. Their policy has always(?) been this isn't allowed. It's just a change in the enforcement.

  • The simple fact of the matter is that Netflix don't really care who you are or where you live or what content they provide you. Netflix wants your subs

    Netflix wants happy licence-holders to keep getting the content to encourage more subs.

    IP holders divide up licences by region in order to sell them for the highest price so they have an interest in Netflix enforcing region based restrictions.

    Netflix know they will lose many users and therefore subs if they are effective at stopping VPNs/proxies.

Someday somebody has got to decide whether the typewriter is the machine, or the person who operates it.