International Netflix US viewers using VPNs to log in could be hit by calls for action Australian film and TV rights-holders.
More than a quarter of Australians and millions worldwide reportedly access Netflix US using a VPN to fool it into thinking they’re in America.
Now the Australian Home Entertainment Distributors Association – which represents TV channels and other groups who hold the local rights to show content – wants Netflix to block international access to the US streaming service.
Simon Bush, CEO of AHEDA and spokesperson for many of the entertainment companies campaigning for a ban, said: “I don’t know what Netflix will do around geo-blocking people using VPNs and international credit cards, but presumably it would fit the business model – if they’ve got rights cleared in Australia…and [they’re] going to the effort – that they would want Australians to access their locally-based service. That is just a common sense assumption.”
AHEDA members are angry that they’ve paid millions of dollars for the rights to films and TV shows, but Aussies are using Netflix instead of watching their TV channels or paying for local services like Quickflix.
Rival service Quickflix has voiced its concerns about Netflix allowing people to access the service using a VPN connection, with its CEO Stephen Langsford saying in an open letter to the company: “You’re currently enjoying a free ride in Australia ignoring unauthorised ‘back door’ access to your US service and thereby taking revenue away from local services which are investing to service the local market and endeavouring to provide choice and competition to consumers.”
Copyright law hasn’t kept up with developments like VPNs, although you’re probably breaking Netflix’s terms and conditions if you use Netflix US when you don’t live in the USA.
Netflix US remains popular worldwide because it has a wider catalogue than many of its international services, and geo-blocking in Australia could affect users worldwide.
As a hint that Netflix will be launching in Australia soon, the company has secured the rights to Batman prequel series Gotham in the country and it looks to be ready to kick off in 2015.
The streaming giant is concentrating on Europe at the moment, with September launches set for Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, and Luxembourg, following the unveiling of the service in France last week.
Netflix was forced to commit to buying locally-made film and TV shows after the ever-militant French media industry threatened to drag it through courts and government inquiries.
Around 10 per cent of British homes subscribe to the UK version of Netflix, but there are no figures for how many people watch the US service, which is relatively cheap thanks to the strength of the Pound against the US Dollar.