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Television Movies Piracy The Almighty Buck The Internet Entertainment Politics

Netflix CEO Says Blocking Proxy Services Is Maturation of Internet TV (mobilesyrup.com) 191

An anonymous reader writes: During a recent round table discussion, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings commented on the company's controversial move to begin blocking the use of proxy VPN/DNS services. "We have the obligation to respect the content rights that we buy; it's just a simple fairness thing. Someone else has paid for the rights in Germany, so we should respect that, just as we would expect the same in return," he said. "The basic thing is if we license a movie here [the U.S.], and then another network licenses it in Germany, then we don't have the rights to display it in Germany. That's why we have to enforce those VPN rules, just like Amazon Prime Instant Video and others do as well. Think of it as the maturation of Internet TV."
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Netflix CEO Says Blocking Proxy Services Is Maturation of Internet TV

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 19, 2016 @01:26PM (#51732395)

    With any new technology, stuff is relatively free. People who make stuff are left alone to make it, and the stuff that is made is shared. Popular work is encouraged, and less popular work continues on a hobby basis. But then someone rich realises that they're not getting even richer by sticking their nose into this new technology. So they waltz in and say, "Hey, this is disrupting the lifestyle to which I have become accustomed - that lifestyle involving my collecting money from people without actually DOING any further work." And for a while people point and laugh and say, "Who is this old man, coming into our playground and wagging his finger and telling us what to do?"

    But this old man has money. And money buys two things: it buys land, and it buys ears. You can buy a lot of the playground, sure, but you can't scare everyone off it, otherwise your playground was useless. So, you buy ears. You convince people who were playing happily that they should be ok with playing differently - in particular, playing in such a way that the old man gets a cut each time you play a game. It's your moral duty. Go on, pay the man.

    And then the playground is mature.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Apparently in your fantasy world the stuff which is made costs nothing to produce, the people who make that stuff don't need to pay any bills and there is no cost to distribute this stuff in any format.

      Have you taken your meds today?

  • by fuzzyf ( 1129635 ) on Saturday March 19, 2016 @01:28PM (#51732405)
    I understand that for the time being they need to follow geolimits posed upon them from those licensing out the content. Hopefull this will mature too. Hollywood is still stuck in the old days in regards to distribution.

    But the simple fact is that. 15000 titles in the US, compared to around 3000 titles where I live, is not worth the price they are asking.
    Lower the price so match the amount of content and it's fine. But paying the same as the US with 1/5th of the content. No.
    • I saw a chart somewhere and basically there is 0 incentive to subscribe if you're not in North America unless you have a VPN to make it appear that you are.

      • Re:This. (Score:5, Informative)

        by GreatDrok ( 684119 ) on Saturday March 19, 2016 @01:56PM (#51732593) Journal

        "I saw a chart somewhere and basically there is 0 incentive to subscribe if you're not in North America unless you have a VPN to make it appear that you are."

        It isn't about the volume, but rather the quality. The thing is, US Netflix has terrible documentaries and I like documentaries so even if I lived in the US, I would prefer the UK version. Documentaries on US Netflix are so frequently those dumb ones that go "Aliens!....pause for ads.....before the break, aliens!" and that is simply brain damaged. So no, being in North America isn't really the only reason to have Netflix.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I don't mind the geolimiting, it's the false positives that worry me.

      I live in the UK and use a small business ISP. My IP address has been registered with RIPE as being in the UK for over a decade. It's the only IP address we have ever used on Netflix, and no other Netflix account has ever been used from here. My Netflix account is registered to a UK address, and paid for on a UK card.

      Yet despite all that, Netflix decided that I couldn't stream anything from the UK catalogue because I was apparently using a

  • by OFnow ( 1098151 ) on Saturday March 19, 2016 @01:28PM (#51732407)
    When not at home it's really only sensible to use vpn to use the web. You know: to keep our web access private in a public place. So, Netflix does not want us to use what we paid for --- except at home? What?
  • Alternatively.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by slashping ( 2674483 ) on Saturday March 19, 2016 @01:29PM (#51732413)
    Or they could just move to a non-exclusive licensing model.
    • Re:Alternatively.... (Score:4, Informative)

      by Shadow99_1 ( 86250 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .99wodahseht.> on Saturday March 19, 2016 @01:32PM (#51732441)

      Sadly most of the media companies haven't become savvy enough to realize the internet is global and this silly crap of geolimiting things is last century. When most media is made outside the 'normal' methods we see today then I'm sure that will change.

      • by whoever57 ( 658626 ) on Saturday March 19, 2016 @02:08PM (#51732691) Journal

        Sadly most of the media companies haven't become savvy enough to realize the internet is global and this silly crap of geolimiting things is last century.

        Sadly, most of these companies have realized that an Indian viewer will pay a fraction of what a US viewer will pay and that a European viewer will pay even more than the US viewer. That's why the rights are not licensed worldwide.

        • by slashping ( 2674483 ) on Saturday March 19, 2016 @03:16PM (#51733189)

          Sadly, most of these companies have realized that an Indian viewer will pay a fraction of what a US viewer will pay and that a European viewer will pay even more than the US viewer. That's why the rights are not licensed worldwide.

          The funny thing is that the European viewer, who's willing to pay the most, can only access a small portion of the available content. A possible solution could be that you can only sign up in the country where you live, and charge different rates based upon that, but still let you watch the entire collection.

        • I personally have no issue with regions with lower incomes paying less for the same content. Heck I think scaled income based payment for services is probably the best way to handle most types of services in general. But then I'm fairly economically progressive.

          • I personally have no issue with regions with lower incomes paying less for the same content

            And thus aiding the move of jobs from from high cost of living countries to low cost of living countries. I have seen this in one industry and the fact that software was sold at low prices in India gave a huge advantage to the buyers of that software in comparison to buyers in the west.

            • by hjf ( 703092 )

              are you really comparing the cost of software as an advantage, and not the fact that the west has faster internet, more reliable power, clean water, less disease, much less poverty, better transport....etc, etc, etc?

              • are you really comparing the cost of software as an advantage, and not the fact that the west has faster internet, more reliable power, clean water, less disease, much less poverty, better transport....etc, etc, etc?

                When the software costs (in the west) $1M per seat, yes.

              • by cowdung ( 702933 )

                your western bias is showing..

                last I heard South Korea and Japan have very good internet, etc.. and they aren't in the "west".

          • There's no reason a business can't buy something in another country if it's cheaper. Why should I be barred from doing the same thing?

            • There's no reason a business can't buy something in another country if it's cheaper. Why should I be barred from doing the same thing?

              And when you are not buying, but instead, you are licensing? And the license comes with geographic limitations?

      • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

        Sadly most of the media companies haven't become savvy enough to realize the internet is global and this silly crap of geolimiting things is last century. When most media is made outside the 'normal' methods we see today then I'm sure that will change.

        The problem is, while the internet is global, most media distribution systems are not. Netflix is probably the largest distributor now being in 200-odd countries. And that is the point- the media companies want to deal with single companies - if you want to di

  • by BerkeleyDude ( 827776 ) on Saturday March 19, 2016 @01:31PM (#51732433)
    Why does my geographical location determine whether or not I'm allowed to access the content I paid for? If I buy a physical book or a DVD, am I not allowed to read or watch it if I travel to another country? Of course I am. Why is streaming video different?

    As for licensing deals: as a consumer, I don't need to know any of that; that's not my problem. And if different countries have different laws, that's fine - but it's not Netflix' job to enforce them.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      "Why does my geographical location determine whether or not I'm allowed to access the content I paid for?"

      Because the powers that be want to enclose and DRM the internet. They know most people are stupid. Movie studies have seen what video game companies and apple has done for software and games. They want to seal the entire internet in encrypted drm laden bs. I expect to see videogames increasingly go always online and exe's and game files go fully encyrpted/sandboxed in the future. Similar things wil

      • So you're saying I'll only buy indie games in the future?

        Umm... ok, not THAT big a difference from now, to be honest...

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Why does my geographical location determine whether or not I'm allowed to access the content I paid for? If I buy a physical book or a DVD, am I not allowed to read or watch it if I travel to another country? Of course I am. Why is streaming video different?

      As for licensing deals: as a consumer, I don't need to know any of that; that's not my problem. And if different countries have different laws, that's fine - but it's not Netflix' job to enforce them.

      Old, scared execs that can't be taught new tricks. We're going to have to wait until they die.

    • "Why does my geographical location determine whether or not I'm allowed to access the content I paid for"

      And what happens when I'm away from home and need to stream content I legally subscribe to because it will 'expire' by the time I'm back home?

    • by EvilSS ( 557649 )

      Why does my geographical location determine whether or not I'm allowed to access the content I paid for? If I buy a physical book or a DVD, am I not allowed to read or watch it if I travel to another country? Of course I am. Why is streaming video different?

      Actually DVD Region coding is a thing so unless you travel with your DVD player as well, yes, they can prevent you from watching it in a different country (or region as they define it, but you get the point).

      As for it not being Netflix's job to enforce it, it really is. It is in their contracts with the content producers. You think Netflix cares where you watch from? It's more money for them. But they don't have any real choice in the matter. If the content producers say "Hey, fix this or we will stop p

      • As for it not being Netflix's job to enforce it, it really is. It is in their contracts with the content producers.

        But it's not in their interest to do a very good job. Just like nearly every DVD player manufacturer has leaked the secret passcode to make the player region free.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The internet is global, so just buy the distribution globally and sell a global product, rather than just giving each country just enough as you can get away with!

    US Netflix > Any other country Netflix.

    • by rocqua ( 4252459 )

      You really think Netflix has the option to buy globally? I sure as shit don't see the networks agreeing to that deal. Furthermore, even if the networks wanted to, they probably have some preexisting exclusive licensing deals that prevent them from giving global deals.

      This is not a move Netflix is making by choice. They are making it to keep the non-original content.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    One could say that, "as a matter of fairness" Netflix "has an obligation" to refuse to accept geographically-limited licenses. Anything less is disrespectful to the viewers. Think of it as the maturation of Internet TV.

  • by Snufu ( 1049644 ) on Saturday March 19, 2016 @01:49PM (#51732555)

    Netflix wants to remind you they are not your friend. They are not a non-profit citizen advocacy organization. They not interested in net neutrality because it is essential to a fair and open public communication infrastructure. They are a for-profit company, no different than Comcast or AT&T. Now that they have "matured", get ready for the same "shut up and pay your bill" treatment.

  • With the VPN workaround Netflix offered a good deal with its 6000+ titles worldwide, but now without it I get a mere 1600+ titles in The Netherlands. As much as I dislike geofencing, that could still be a good offer because Netflix adds (and removes) titles periodically, but only if the price was adjusted accordingly. But now I am paying slightly more than an American customer, for a third of the content. How is that fair?

    I switched from commercial television channels to Netflix, but without access to th
    • by KGIII ( 973947 )

      > How is that fair?

      Real life is not the playground. Just like, "They did it first!" is not really a good excuse. Life is not fair.

      I recently came across some NL company that offers hosting. They have 50 GB of free backup but only if you're local, everyone else has to pay. They check your IP address and spit you out to their .eu site when you try to sign up for it. I suppose you might say that's not fair. Odd that you threaten to pirate it? Is it that meaningful?

      • by Anonymous Coward
        "Not fair" is a perfectly good pair of words for warranting reevaluation and change. If something's broke, you fix it.
      • Life is not fair.

        Funny thing about that. We have the power to make it fair. We can create a buyers market with that power, where the consumer sets the rules. So, if no "legitimate" sellers offer what we want where and when we want it, then there is nothing wrong with circumventing them. If I pay for a Netflix subscription, and have to download a bootleg because they won't deliver where I am, I consider the download as paid for. Everybody still got their checks. Their bureaucracy be damned. And, we saved Ne

    • Have you talked to your VPN provider? Mine had many variations to try, the third one got me back onto Netflix.
  • They're enough of a threat to TV networks they get harassed into fixing problems that aren't really theirs, if they deliver to a US-registered IP that should be the end of their responsibility. This is just a policy of appeasement while hopefully kicking them to the curb, it's a global market and you sell to the whole world. It's called globalization and you're only like 50 years behind the times.

  • by future assassin ( 639396 ) on Saturday March 19, 2016 @01:53PM (#51732573) Homepage

    I'll just have to block Netflix from accessing my credit card.

  • Reed Hastings is trying to say that Netflix can only do business by playing by the rules that the TV networks and content producers write. Those groups want to maximize their profit, and so does Reed. If they refuse to do business with Netflix without geographically-limited licensing, Netflix can either say goodbye to customers or agree to do it.

    As the head of a public company, Reed doesn't have a choice. I would at least hope that Netflix itself only licenses on a global basis and doesn't engage in geographic limitations.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Making the new model just like the old one so its easier to control. :(

  • by Simulant ( 528590 ) on Saturday March 19, 2016 @02:04PM (#51732659) Journal

    And I like to travel.

    Your system of "intellectual property" is broken beyond repair.
    • by KGIII ( 973947 )

      They will say that you paid for the right to watch it - from a very specific location, probably within the borders of the country you reside in. I have not read the terms of service but it's quite possible that they'd be right. If this is a problem for you then you *did* read the terms of service, right?

      • If this is a problem for you then you *did* read the terms of service, right?

        Don't be smug. The terms of services are written by experts in obfuscation, and nothing is gained by reading them anyway, as you have no power to renegotiate any of the terms, nor will you find another company with better deals on the same content.

    • Can't you just run a VPN server on your home network? They wont be able to block that.
      I installed an OpenVPN server on my cheapass OpenWRTd router and as long as the router is on (which it always is), I can connect to the internet via my home connection (which I do both on my laptop and phone when on a public WiFi network).

      Granted, this may be problematic if your upstream is crappy, but otherwise it seems like a very simple solution for those based in the US.

      • While some people have mentioned the "US-resident traveling abroad" scenario, that's not really the scenario that is driving this backlash. It's mostly non-US residents wanting to subscribe to the US version of Netflix.

        As a side note, I've done what you described. I have 75/75mbps on Verizon FiOS. Unfortunately, I rarely actually get 75mbps upload in practice- presumably only to services co-located with Verizon, or direct peering arrangements. I'm lucky to sustain 10mbps when VPNing from the US. In Eur

        • While some people have mentioned the "US-resident traveling abroad" scenario, that's not really the scenario that is driving this backlash.

          I understand that, but given this sentence from the GP "And I like to travel", I was assuming GP was US-based and providing a possible solution for that specific case.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I paid for the right to watch it.

      What is the it in this context, though?

      Let's say you're a German who signed up for Netflix while you were traveling in the U.S. - because you wanted something better to watch in Hotels than the public channels and HBO - and are currently in France.

      Is it...

      A. "Netflix's catalog from the market in which I currently find myself"? You believe you're entitled to French content only.

      B. "Netflix's catalog from the market from which I signed up"? You believe you're entitled to US

  • You mean turning it into the same sterile medium that television is? When do the commercials start?
  • Just Pirate (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 19, 2016 @02:06PM (#51732677)

    Just Torrent the shows instead. It's cheaper, more convenient, and more reliable. Piracy: A truly global media delivery service.

  • At the risk of coming off like a cranky, digital-age hermit, I increasingly feel like I'm just done with this shit. The more big companies try to entrench the value of their product, the less value it holds for me. When you just let me have the thing I paid for, we can remain on good terms, but when you place a higher premium on locking things down than you do on the experience of consuming them, I start looking for alternatives. Now, I'm not even that disappointed when I can't find an alternative. The
  • The problem is regional licensing. Geographical borders don't really mean much to a medium which can circle the globe in 0.13 seconds. It may have made sense back in the days when books and film took months to transport across oceans by ship, but not anymore.
    • Hopefully they won't renew the limiting contracts and will move to Netflix, especially if Netflix offers them more money!
  • by zenlessyank ( 748553 ) on Saturday March 19, 2016 @02:16PM (#51732763)
    I like paint.
  • Maturation? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Saturday March 19, 2016 @02:17PM (#51732775)

    In other words, you're working hard on making it as irrelevant as old school TV has become, and for the same reason?

    *sigh*

    Back to torrents, folks, 'til they get it.

  • So, will Netflix pro-rate my monthly bill for time I spend on travel to foreign countries?

    I'm kind of doubting it.

    • "So, will Netflix pro-rate my monthly bill for time I spend on travel to foreign countries?"

      Of course they will, just as soon as your landlord pro rates your rent, your cell phone pro rates your phone bill, and your gym pro rates your membership.

      • "So, will Netflix pro-rate my monthly bill for time I spend on travel to foreign countries?"

        Of course they will, just as soon as your landlord pro rates your rent, your cell phone pro rates your phone bill, and your gym pro rates your membership.

        Good point, but there indeed some are counter-examples.

        My car insurance company will pro-rate while I'm away. So will my internet (& TV) service.

        My cell phone service. . . It's the opposite. I have to pay extra to add "International Roaming" so that people can call my US number in France, UK, and so on. Same for cell-phone data and texts. It's super-convenient, but boy does that one add up!

  • by stasike ( 1063564 ) on Saturday March 19, 2016 @02:22PM (#51732813)

    I have immediately subscribed when they became available here in my European country. During the first month I have seen all programs from their very limited list that I am interested in.
    Then I have canceled. There are lots of other programs in their worldwide catalog that I would like to see and that I am willing to pay for. See, I am not interested in most of contemporary movies or series. I was interested in documentaries. Sadly, those are not available here.
    I am not going subscribe until there are enough programs for me to watch for at least a month.

    In the meanwhile I got motivated to have a look at the cable selection I am subscribed to. I have made some changes and I am happy. I am not interested in paying for History Chanel and similar channels that used to have quality programming and that feature mainly reality shows nowadays.

  • I use a Swedish VPN simply so that my kids can watch cartoons on Netflix in Swedish. The content is not much different between Belgium and Sweden on Netflix, so I am basically doing it for the language option. If there was a way to split contract-obliged geoblocking and localization that should definitely be done!
  • by zuki ( 845560 ) on Saturday March 19, 2016 @03:45PM (#51733343) Journal
    It pains me to have to point this out, but it seems as if the weekend anti-copyright knee-jerk brigade is out in force today. What Hastings was roughly saying appeared far from shocking or outrage-provoking.

    Obviously, if they don't want to be in breach of contract Netflix are legally obligated to abide by the covenants of whatever agreement(s) they've entered into with content owners. He's merely saying this to appear to do what they expect his company to prevent, this in order to keep securing more licenses for their content; and further he adds that he's very aware of what customers want, only it's going to take time to reach a universal licensing model. Except for programs they fund themselves, one would assume.

    I mean, who are we kidding here? Obviously, with them using around 37% of the entire Internet's bandwidth as of 2015 stats, one would think that Netflix is keenly aware that it's just a pointless exercise of whack-a-mole, but the balding pointy-headed head of the licensing department at 19thCenturyFax might not quite be as savvy with technology, and could actually believe that the VPNing can be stopped. (in reality, none of them are dumb enough to assume something so silly, but their point simply validates the low-hanging fruit theory to get maximal return for a small investment of time and resources.)

    If people are serious about using VPNs, then they'll have to put in a bit of extra effort and spend a little more to get a reputable provider that will not fall victim to their pruning of the cheap or free VPN services. Again, nothing terribly earth-shattering here. One could therefore remark that it would seem reasonable to save the indignant tone for actually important things.
    • Wait... Why can't VPNing be stopped? Sure, you're not going to be able to stop them all, but it seems quite feasible to block the vast majority of them.

      First, for consumers to be able to find VPNs, they have to be publicly-available and advertised. What percentage of VPN services control 95% of market? A wild guess, but I would bet it isn't above 50, and very well might be below 10. Monitoring the top 100 services wouldn't require inordinate resources, in part because there's a wide range of companies in

  • by mstrcat ( 517519 ) on Saturday March 19, 2016 @04:45PM (#51733641)
    I have had several long acrimonious conversation with the chat bots that Netflix calls customer service and have come away extremely disappointed. 1) Netflix doesn't care that your a US citizen and your VPN gives you a US geolocation. This is too sensible an approach I guess. They also turn a deaf ear to the 'vpn use for computing safety' argument. 2) Netflix doesn't have an email address that you can send complaints. They like postal mail when hearing from customers. 3) I have lodged complaints to both the FTC (no response) and FCC (a stretch, but they've seemed consumer friendly of late, also no response.) 4) To date none of the netflix chat bots can point me to a terms of service that allows such denial of service. This long after they've started doing it makes me think they are afraid of putting it writing for fear of the consequences. 5) I've been considering a small claims action. Since it's not in the terms of service, a breach of contract claim might work.
  • Because, heaven forbid I be a US citizen traveling abroad who simply wants to access the content he's paid for.

    Fuck me and my selfish, unfair self.

  • by Bender Unit 22 ( 216955 ) on Saturday March 19, 2016 @10:16PM (#51735009) Journal

    We had a good run, but the things you have available in my country are not worth it. And it is not even the expensive shows I am interested in, it's documentaries etc. I would think those would be easier and cheaper to license globally.
    For some reason, I don't even watch much TV anymore, haven't had cable in years. My Netflix usage has also been less and less the last year so it is not a huge loss.

  • Copyright was never meant to be used as a tool for censoring content, on the contrary, it was meant to promote the arts. So copyright should have an exception for works not made available. If the copyright holder decides to withdraw a work, then it would be automatically free for anyone else to copy and distribute. After all copyright is a monopoly, but if the holder decides to not peruse that monopoly then it should be open for anyone else who my want to publish it. Under said directive we would have:

    1. Ol

  • The big issue is that for someone in the US it is impossible to buy rights from Germany to stay with the example given, for a consumer that is. I'd love to see more German shows, but geoblocking prevents it. I'm nor arguing that everything should be free, but everything should be reasonably accessible at a fair price. As far as Netflix goes, their foreign content section is sooo dismal. That was the main reason I dropped their service. The free on demand channel from my TV provider had a better selection th

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