Netflix

The Computer Corner

By Charles Miller

Just in the last few weeks I have had conversations with several different people, all of whom had been caught red-handed violating their customer agreement with Netflix. When someone signs up for a Netflix account, the User Agreement specifically says, “You may view a movie or TV show through the Netflix service primarily within the country in which you have established your account and only in geographic locations where we offer our service and have licensed such movie or TV show.” And when most gringos click on [I agree] they then proceed to blithely ignore the agreement they made. All one had to do to get away with this deception was to employ a Virtual Private Network (VPN) or proxy server to obfuscate their Mexican IP address. I have always taken care to warn my clients of the potential problems in doing this, and indeed it appears that the party is coming to an end.

Netflix serves many countries, including Mexico; however, users in the US get access to far more content. Expatriates in Mexico want access to all of that and they want it in English. Until recent weeks they could have it, in part because Netflix seemed to be turning a blind eye to violations of its user agreement.

That changed in 2016, starting with a January posting on Netflix’s website by Vice President of Content Delivery Architecture, David Fullagar, writing that the company would continue working to make more programming available to those outside the US, but also that measures will be taken to ensure that existing copyright and content licensing agreements are respected. He went on to say, “In coming weeks, those using proxies and unblockers will only be able to access the service in the country where they currently are.”

The position of Netflix reeks of hypocrisy on two levels. Netflix owns the rights to their own productions, such as the popular “House of Cards,” yet it has embargoed its own shows from worldwide distribution. And when it comes to illegally distributing copyrighted content, Netflix is breaking copyright law big time in many countries by providing programming to IP addresses located on US military bases around the world; this according to Stars and Stripes.

In spite of what I just wrote, it is hard to see Netflix as the bad guy here. The company has a proven record of working to negotiate global distribution rights for programming so it can then make it available everywhere. These efforts are being stymied by rights holders in Hollywood and elsewhere, apparently preferring to maintain the status quo for copyright licensing.

The situation in Mexico now is that Netflix is methodically rooting out the scofflaws who watch US programming. How cutting off its international customers plays to Netflix’s advantage in this big-business chess game eludes me. Perhaps if anyone understands better than I, they can explain it to me.

Charles Miller is a freelance computer consultant. He may be contacted at 044 415 101 8528 or email FAQ8 (at) SMAguru.com.

 

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