Netflix Vows to Shut Down Proxy Users Who Bypass Country Restrictions

Courtesy of Netflix

Netflix, which now offers streaming service in some 190 nations, says it’s going to bring the hammer down on people who circumvent country-based content licensing restrictions using proxies or “unblockers.”

Within the next few weeks, Netflix subscribers using proxies and unblockers will only be able to access the service in the country where they are currently located, VP of content delivery architecture David Fullagar wrote in a blog post.

Fullagar acknowledged that people use such tools because Netflix doesn’t offer the same content in globally.

“We are making progress in licensing content across the world… but we have a ways to go before we can offer people the same films and TV series everywhere,” he wrote. “For now, given the historic practice of licensing content by geographic territories, the TV shows and movies we offer differ, to varying degrees, by territory. In the meantime, we will continue to respect and enforce content licensing by geographic location.”

Fullagar’s post didn’t provide details on what new technical changes Netflix plans to implement to enforce the content restrictions. “We are confident this change won’t impact members not using proxies,” he wrote.

A Netflix rep, asked for more info, said only that the company “uses a variety of technologies to properly geolocate members and to avoid attempts to circumvent proper geolocation.”

A veritable cottage industry of startups has sprung up to sell proxy and virtual private network services that let Internet users access Netflix — and other geo-blocked services — from restricted territories. For example, those allow someone located in the U.K. to access programming available only to U.S.-based subscribers.

Netflix’s terms of use explicitly forbid the use of proxies or other bypass mechanisms. “You may view a movie or TV show through the Netflix service… only in geographic locations where we offer our service and have licensed such movie or TV show,” the company says.

But that hasn’t stopped millions of consumers from turning to proxies to get around that rule. More than 30 million users accessed the service monthly from countries where Netflix had not yet launched, per a study in January 2015 by GlobalWebIndex. Of those, 21.6 million were in China — a massive market where Netflix faces several hurdles — the firm estimated.

The move by Netflix to more rigorously enforce geographical content-licensing rights indicates that it’s responding to studio and content partners concerned that viewership of movies and shows via Netflix from non-licensed territories will impinge their other distribution deals in those areas. The company may also be seeking to limit account-sharing among subscribers.

“This technology continues to evolve and we are evolving with it,” Fullagar wrote in his post.

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  1. android tracking google says:

    Hi there, I see your blog occasionally and I own a similar one and I waas just curious if you get a great deal of spam feedback? Thank you in advance. Keep it up!

  2. KEHINDE SHOTE says:

    If UK subscribers think their content selection is bad they should see what’s available in Nigeria. I pay the same $9.99 every month that Americans pay buy I get less than a tenth of the content. I think I will cancel my subscription next month.

  3. Joe Bishop says:

    I’ll be cancelling my account then. German Netflix sucks.

  4. I will be terminating my account because what you offer where I live is ridiculously meager and bad. There are now no benefits of having a Netflix account, you don’t add enough contents each month, you remove series suddenly without warning, just because they are old doesn’t mean nobody wants to watch them, and now there is geolocation tracking which I am against on a fundamental level. So Adios Netflix.

  5. I’m terminating my netflix account because I’m a brazilian living at UK and can’t access movies with portuguese audios or subtitles.

  6. stevefrehley says:

    I’m in Canada and just had my Netflix account terminated….Ugh

  7. Kaitlin says:

    All I am going to say about this is it’s BS!! Im in the US Army on a mission and now i can no longer watch Netflix. Way to go. We travel all over the world so this is not ideal for us soldiers.Its the little things that get to you. I swear.

    • Joe Bishop says:

      I hear ya man. I’m an American Expat working on an Army base in Germany. The German netflix doesn’t have anything worthwhile except current episodes of Better call Saul. It’s bad enough, they cancelled lilyhammer, but this is where I draw the line.

    • Rob says:

      I know that in Canada Netflix (the largest company to offer streamable content) bowed down and did exactly what Bell Canada told them to do. bell Canada started it’s own streaming service which has even less content than Netflix Canada. Their CEO took the attitude that if they can’t make money off of Netflix (over 1/3 of Canadian subscribers use it to access US Netflix) or provide a decent service at a fair price, then they’ll go running to the Gov’t crying “no fair, help us”. The sad thing is legal scholars have for the most part said Netflix would win in court. But Netflix caved in to Bell’s demands and started blocking US content. If Neflix keeps up their geoblocking successfully they will most likely lose over a third of its customers in Canada. Maybe that might make them take on Bell Canada – and they will win. Hopefully VPN are working on how to get around this – unless Bell gets their wish that VPN are banned.

  8. Dale says:

    Well it was good while it lasted but if I have to go back to UK Netflix after seeing what’s on the American one, no thank you. Also just to add, to everyone who are saying this is a good thing, UK subscribers get so much less content than the US do and they pay the same price. How is that fair, not to mention the other countries from what it sounds like has it a lot worse off. I hope this backfires for them.

    • dave says:

      I’ve been using Netflix for years, if I am forced into only using the UK version I will just go to Amazon Prime Movies and support them instead as Netflix US has so much *great content* that the UK version is just not worth the asking price.

  9. Amber Thibaulf says:

    I think that we are paying for the service of Netflix it shouldn’t matter what we watch because of where we are in the world! It should be the same movies and tv shows for everyone in the world and you wouldn’t have this problem of people using proxies! Thinking about cancelling my Netflix now! Goodbye 8.99!!

  10. stephen f says:

    thats my subscription cancelled with netflix then :p

  11. Steve Calahan says:

    Give it a couple of weeks, there will be a fix for this eventually. For now just watch stuff on streaming sites! Netfix will not win here, that is certain!

  12. A says:

    Time to drop Netflix, after 6 years of paying for service. Scum bags

  13. Fromage says:

    This sucks for any Netflix viewers. Content for Canadian viewers is pretty lame. This makes Netflix unattractive and possibly not worthwhile for a lot of subscribers. I’m going to give some thought to cancelling.

  14. Rayne says:

    This sucks for US military members who can’t get the US version of Netflix if they are stationed somewhere over seas. Either Netflix forgoes this proxy BS. Or force US Netflix on all US military bases world wide the doesn’t automatically offer American IPs

  15. Cliff Giltinan says:

    Cool… and I just cancelled my Netflix membership as a result! Don’t really care what their explanation is. If Brits get to watch Call Saul (and other US releases) on Netflix (made in USA) and we can’t, I’m no longer interested in giving them any of my money. There are plenty of other ways to get the content I’m looking for. Seeya!

  16. Korkrag says:

    This is a big shame, for a Polish friend of mine using my Netflix (UK) To watch the American Netflix. There’s very little on the Polish Netflix. Not a lot of good on the UK one. I imagine this is to do with certain business removing the rights for shows to be shown in other places, I hate this whole “Rights” bullshit, people just use it as a weapon, when it’s supposed to be given.

  17. Heidi says:

    Anyway, my US account just terminated today.

  18. Heidi says:

    Therefore, why we have to pay same price if the content vary by region? should we have low price for other country except US due to low content in movies/tv shows library?

  19. Aazii says:

    Usually, when people violate ToS of any service, the company incurs certain damages. In this case, Netflix is benefiting from having more users; quite the opposite. So why would you do something that will affect your customer base – I really don’t understand this move unless they have been massively pressurized by the copyright holders.

  20. ShyRonny says:

    I don’t get it. Why does Netflix care? Are they getting pressure from the regional distributors? Are they not big enough to push back for global content?

    Also, how will they do this? Only serve your home region content no matter where the DNS request comes from and thereby retain some subscribers? Keep track of people who switch regions frequently (i.e. person is not actually traveling)? I’m sure it’s all doable, I just don’t understand why they would *start* doing it right now and not architect the system to do this from day 1.

    The only people really complaining about this perceived problem (the content distributors) are the ones who created the mess in the first place by restricting content.

  21. Rob I'm Not a Ludite says:

    this is the real reason – The company may also be seeking to limit account-sharing among subscribers.

  22. diaskeaus says:

    I wonder if the studios pressuring them to do this will compensate them for the loss of (international) subscriptions they will lose.

  23. cy12 (@cy12) says:

    Most people dont understand how the industry functions. Without territorial rights, TV shows will not find the funding they need to be made. They are so expensive that they are pre-sold even before they are made, to distributors who pay for the rights by territory. How do you want to get funding without territories? Also, it clearly states in the contract when signing up to Netflix that you are paying for the content in your country, not all the content everywhere. if u dont like it, dont sign up. Entertainment is not a necessity, its not like water. Just because a TV show is not available which you like, that doesnt give u the right to trick the system using VPN.

    • Internet based services killed the notion of territory. Shame on you Netflix. Shame on every business model based both on internet and global position. They don`t understand that the opportunity cost for non american territories is not just to cancel Netflix and go to local media channels (mostly outdated and full of poor advertising). The opportunity cost will be just to spend 10 more minutes than usual and get the torrent. Piracy must be clapping and cheering this news. It already backfired for both Netflix and its partners

    • T0rchwood says:

      Which kind of explains why torrents are and will remain popular.

  24. FInn says:

    If I’m blocked I’ll cancel my subscription.

  25. Aussie says:

    Yes your wasting your time, all this will achieve is an increase in piracy and loss of profits from disgruntled users leaving, Netflix in Australia is a joke vs Netflix in the US, to be quite honest it is just a scam, why not have a global Netflix it would help solve those problems, as for blocking VPN’s and the like, part of their sales pitch to customers of such services is they practically guarentee this, so blocking them is only going to lead to them constantly adapting and successfully providing the customer that service eventually!

  26. Richard Schmid says:

    Netflix! Don’t do that! It’s deprives us from the internet freedom. And we will go to piracy again. I mean if I live in the other country but I want to see the movies from my account, using vpn was the only option…

  27. John says:

    Goodbye netflix, hello piracy!

  28. Manuel says:

    Welcome to the globalized world where we enforce artificial our boarders!

  29. If Americans had their children exposed to the Dutch children’s movies, they’d probably be boycotting Netflix en masse. There are a lot of Sinterklaas (Dutch Santa Claus) movies on Netflix which each featuring a dozen or so very white people in blackface with afro wigs and too much bright lipstick, acting like simpletons.

  30. kryptonradio says:

    We wish them good luck in the attempt. Proxies are not the easiest thing to detect, and in some cases the clients must use them because of how their networks are set up and may have no choice. Separating the legitimate proxy users from the geotranslocation users will be a daunting, challenging task.

  31. Back to ThePirateBay it is.:)

  32. ewfewfew says:

    this is sooo funny! propaganda if i ever read it! Blocking connections to the service they sell hahahahahahahahah. netflix – even supporting blocking of proxies makes them look sooo stupid! lol lol funny marketing award 2016!

  33. betty boo says:

    I have no problem with this provided they give the UK customers who pay the same price as the US customers access to the same content.

    Oh no wait they can’t becuase of licensing well i gues sthat’s my subscription cancelled.

    • jedi77 says:

      Yep, same here. Subscription is cancelled if I have to make do with my local selection. Not worth it, not by a longshot.

      Back to the world of torrents.

  34. John says:

    When the Internet was a new thing, there were little to no geographic borders. During the last decade or so, we have seen how governments and private interests have twisted what was once an open medium of communication.
    The reason why I disagree with this geographic restriction is simply because it goes against the primary principal of the Internet. I’ll explain.

    – Unlike the physical market where content needs to be physically distributed by air or land involving several people in the process, online WE all pay for the internet infrastructure. We are taking the distribution cost out of the hands of content makers and online services and sharing that cost between everyone that has online access.
    Think about it. Netflix has no problem providing us all access to their content. The content maker doesn’t even pay the Internet line that goes to your home We all do.
    In the past, the main reason why content makers had to deal with local distributors was precisely because those movies of TV shows had to be physically sent to your home.

    The Internet is a global effort. One single network supported by millions of users and companies. This combined effort allows me to post this message for everyone to read. Allows Variety access to users worldwide. Allows Netflix access to users worldwide as well.
    When you use the Internet to sell your content, you are basically taking advantage of this global effort.
    This is how people got famous using Youtube to distribute their content at a very low cost.
    By limiting access to content, companies are basically telling us that they love the idea of a global community that shares the cost of the Internet infrastructure and allows them to distribute content extremely fast and at a very low cost but they still want to treat consumers from different regions differently.
    It’s like we are all sharing the rent of one house (internet) and one of the household members wants to restrict access to one of the bathrooms.

    Why should we allow companies to impose this virtual restrictions?

  35. Mare says:

    So cancelling Netflix and exclusively torrenting it is, then!

  36. ... says:

    Netflix is asking for people to go back to piracy and things like popcorn time

    • jedi77 says:

      No, the Hollywood studios and content providers are asking for people to go back to piracy and things like popcorn time.
      Believe me, Netflix has no interest in this. Notice the article’s mention of 21 million chinese consumers. If they are blocked, they cancel subscriptions

  37. Brian Manon says:

    This is what happens as soon as a loophole in the system goes viral.

    • jedi77 says:

      Exactly. All those “How to watch American Netflix” articles ruined it for everyone.
      You find a loophole in something, shut the hell up about it.

  38. I continue to use google play, movies

  39. paul says:

    In Poland we have about 17% of US movie/tv base with price 7,99€ (basic). So….

  40. Brandon says:

    21.6 million were in China – and every one of them will cancel their subscription. Isn’t netflix “Banned” in China anyhow and thats why this is an issue? I could be wrong…

    Even so if 21.6 million or 30 million people for that matter drop their subscription at once Netflix will lose a retarded amount of money monthly. $9.99 x 30,000,000=royally effed and the christmas bonus for 2016 is going to suck.

  41. Marco says:

    This will help piracy instead of promoting paying services

  42. BENTEN says:

    What happens if a U.S. Netflix subscriber is in the U.K? No access to one’s own account? I think the days of “territories” is about to be over.

  43. Roberto says:

    Yeah, do that netfllix, so I will drop my subscriptions and download your series gratis on torrent ;)

  44. If this happens I’ll just drop my subscriptions and go back to torrents.

    • Rex says:

      Enjoy wasting your time and bandwidth, hoping to get decent files . . .

      • lol that’s cute. I’ve been torrenting for over a decade and never gotten a bad file. Hell, you can set it tup to have new episodes downloaded automatically as they are released, and set up plex for a netflix like experience.

      • Paparama says:

        Yeah, sure. You should stop talking about things you have no idea about.

        I’m all against everything illegal but not all people living/working in US or other developed countries. In county where I work, it’s impossible to legally get any good TV Show or Movie, even in freaking cinema movies are heavily censored and after watching new movie in Cinema, I have to download it from torrent when I arrive at home and watch it again to understand what the hell happened. Because of this censorship, most of the time it’s impossible to get idea what happened in most interesting parts of the movie. So don’t start talking BS about how bad torrents are, I pay more than you pay in US for cinema tickets and I don’t understand many parts of the movie because it was censored and I have freaking right to watch it because I pay for it. They censor freaking 28 minutes from The Wolf of Wall Street and as you can guess, it was most funny parts they censored.

        I as thousands of others in this country were extremely happy when we heard Netflix was finally available here. Next minute I heard about it, I was already registered on Netflix and browsing TV shows and movies, but I was very disappointed because everything available was plain s***. For this country they deliver worst content possible and I had no choice other than using VPN to access US Content. I was very happy about it since I was paying for what I was watching and it wasn’t censored until today.

        So if they block using VPN, for me it means goodbye Netflix and welcome back torrents…. And it’s not just me, nobody will pay for this content they offer for this country. It’s not like I’m enjoying using torrents or I’m doing that because I don’t have money, I just don’t have another choice like more than billion people on this planet.

        Also you are extremely wrong about finding good quality torrents. Name any movie or any episode from any TV show that is available on Netflix and I will give you link of torrent file with 1080p quality in less than 5 minutes.

      • indie_cibil says:

        It’s actually easier from my experience to just download torrents than finding something to watch on Netflix, even the US version. Add the subscription to the vpn/dns service and the time to set up the router to work.
        I don’t have a limit on bandwidth and it is a Gigabit connection, an HD mkv torrent will take mere minutes.

        If I won’t be able to use a smart DNS solution, then I will cancel the subscription. In my 3rd world country which has an average income somewhere around 1/10th of US there’s no reason to pay more (8 Eur) for 11.5% of the US library.

  45. Rex says:

    About damned time! I know people in the “arts” communities who have no problem RIPPING OFF their own industries by using these proxy services to access U.S. Netflix, while simultaneously (and frequently) whinging about how “their” industries are hurt by OTHER scourges like pirated discs and torrents. Frankly, I’m surprised Netflix didn’t jump on this sooner as it’s been going on for YEARS! Mind you, international rights-holders should shoulder a LOT of the blame here since they seem CLUELESS that Netflix will one day be THE principal global television service, and instead they try to squeeze every little greedy penny they can out of whatever local providers they can so that international audiences have to spend absurd amounts of money on multiple services just to get the stuff they want.

    • k says:

      People using proxies and paying for Netflix aren’t ripping people off,they’re paying for the content that people in the u.s get.

      • Not Lot's wife says:

        Australian Netflix is more expensive than US Netflix and has just 10% of the content. Lucky I’m located in the US *cough*. Thanks Malcolm Turnbull for the Meta Data Legislation and constant surveillance the Australian Government engages in. I used to be under more default surveillance than a Palestinian in Israel, courtesy of the Australian state, but now you can kiss my encrypted ass in a jurisdiction you need both probable cause and a warrant.

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