Netflix is already making good on its promise to deal with VPN piracy and has started blocking out some Australian customers who circumvent its geographical blocks to access content from overseas catalogues.
According to reports in Australian media, some users of uFlix, which is a Melbourne-based unblocker, have received notices from the popular streaming service telling them to switch off their unblocking service. uFlix has said that the notices have only been served to a few users but it anticipates that more will be affected in the next few days.
Like several other proxy services, uFlix configures a user’s DNS settings and IP address to make it look as if they are connecting from a different country, specifically territories where the user can then access more content than what is available from their native Netflix catalogue.
This strategy has been used by people who want the “full Netflix service” which includes shows like House of Cards, The Blacklist, Orange is The New Black and Breaking Bad.
The uFlix team suspects that Netflix is managing to zero in on these users by blocking known IP ranges and gaining additional information from the user’s browser or mobile device and comparing it to the proxy and user IP addresses.
It’s not just uFlix that has noted Netflix’s moves against VPN Piracy. Another VPN service provider, ExpressVPN, has also reportedly confirmed that it has noted similar efforts by Netflix to deal with unblockers.
A sense of irony lies in this fight against VPN Piracy. The move is preventing customers from effectively paying for content, something that could push users to turn to competing services or at worst, other forms of piracy. Unfortunately for Netflix, it has to do this to placate other stakeholders in the content distribution game.
When Netflix effected its global expansion strategy, the plan was it wouldn’t violate any distribution rights arrangements that existed with other content distributors that had the same content it traditionally has on its United States catalogue. Acting on cases of VPN Piracy appears to be a way of reinforcing that entire arrangement.
While these actions might seem like the end of VPN Piracy, providers of unblocker services don’t seem bothered and are working to beat Netflix at this. For example, uFlix is already looking into how Netflix configured its latest efforts to block Australian users from overseas content so it can find a work around.
Other providers like TorGuard even assured its users that they needn’t be bothered by Netflix’s threat, saying,
For those of you who rely on TorGuard VPN service to unblock Netflix content unrestricted, you don’t have to worry. Netflix will be pushing this plan forward soon, and when that happens, TorGuard will immediately deploy new server IP addresses so users can still bypass blocks.
While Netflix continues to figure out how to clamp down on unblockers, these guys aren’t going to take it lightly and will just evolve their services to beat the VOD service at each and every turn.