Following Netflix’s crackdown on bypassing of geo-blocking, Paypal has now entered the fray taking it’s own action.
VPN and Smart DNS service Unotelly has posted an email they received from Paypal stating they will no longer be accepting payments for the service as it may use “technological measure that descrambles a scrambled work, decrypts an encrypted work or otherwise avoids, bypasses, removes, deactivates or impairs a technological measure without the authority of the copyright owner.”
Of course any VPN can be used for the purpose of bypassing geographic restrictions, the main difference with services like Unotelly is they specifically advertise this ability as a feature of their service.
It must also be stressed that there are no laws against bypassing restrictions at this time.
With Paypal taking these steps so soon after Netflix’s crackdown it’s difficult not to make an assumption that these events are connected. There has been increased rhetoric referring to bypassing region restrictions as piracy plus privacy concerns creating a huge spike in VPN usage in recent times.
As regional licensing has been hugely profitable for licence holders for decades it is easy to see how very recent technical advancements would be considered a threat to their business models. Technical limitations of the past made enforcement easier, just ask anyone who tried to play an NTSC video tape in a PAL territory!
Of course, I can only make a casual link between the Netflix and Paypal actions at this time. However I will not be shocked if we see more action taken against VPN and unblocking services, particularly those that advertise bypassing geo-blocks, within the next few months.
The hope that Netflix was just making a token effort with restricting use of VPN and unblocking service to access other region content to appease licence holders has been, at least partially, dashed for users of the uFlix service in Australia.
Reports have also been received that some Getflix users are also having issues.
Being based in Australia, and as a user of an unblocking service, I am happy to say my access is still currently available. However I am reluctant to specify the service I am using at this time as I am not too keen on bringing further attention to it given these recent events.
Do you still have access to overseas Netflix content? Comment below and don’t forget Choice Australia is trying to prevent Australians from being locked out of US content.
After all this talk of a crackdown on region jumping Netflix users the CEO of Netflix, Reed Hastings, has come out saying that he doesn’t think that there is much of an issue with people avoiding regional restrictions.
His focus is instead on pushing for global licensing of content to make geo-blocking of content a thing of the past.
It’s easy to guess which side of the fence I am on. As a firm supporter of the idea that accessible and affordable content is the best way to combat piracy I am hoping the licence holders start listening to Mr Hastings!
And can we please stop referring to region hopping as “VPN piracy” guys. The content is still being paid for, and it proves the customers are willing to pay more for a better selection.
Now this is worrying news. Netflix, who have recently been pushing their global availability, has announced they will be taking steps to ensure consumers can only access the library for their location.
This means that anyone outside the US will have a smaller selection of content. I, like many other Australians, use a bypass method which allows “region hopping” to maximise my selection.
While it hasn’t been stated, this move would be at the behest of media companies wanting to set up licensing agreements for different countries to maximise profits. Of course, once an area is excluded from certain content then they will find other ways to obtain it.
Consider the most pirated TV show in history, Game of Thrones. It has very few options, and to watch it in Australia requires a very expensive Foxtel subscription. It was briefly available through iTunes and Google Play on an episode by episode basis until Foxtel got super protective and locked them out until after the seasons finish.
The upshot, big leap in piracy of GoT I’m Australia.
The moral is that Netflix has been successful in reducing piracy around the world, even though some are not using it as intended. By forcing Netflix to prevent people from region hopping media companies are taking a backward step with efforts to reduce piracy.
Just be happy people are paying to watch your stuff guys!
UPDATE: Choice Australia has launched a campaign to keep bypassing the geoblock.