Major media channel Bell Canada Enterprises’ new boss Mary Ann Turcke warned the guests at Canadian Media Summit that parents should steer kids away from masking their IP addresses to watch US Netflix.
She argued that bypassing geo-blocked Netflix content was akin to stealing. Warning the conference attendees of dangers to Canadian television as Canadians continuously seek entertainment options through the subscription video service south of the border.
The argument of lost revenue is not surprising – cable Networks blaming Netflix and/or Netflix subscribers that choose to bypass Geo-Blocked restrictions is not new. It deflects the point away from telcos not providing better content users want.
The bigger issue with Ms. Turcke argument was the continuous shaming of Canadians Accessing US Netflix, and repeatedly calling it stealing. Making the access of geo-blocked content a moral issue is a new tactic and that’s wrong. Canadians are not refusing to pay for the access to better service- they are paying for Canadian Netflix and a VPN service. Yet Mary Ann Turcke went on to illustrate her experience, the disappointment of learning her own daughter was using a VPN service to access American Netflix, later chastising her for doing so and teaching her 15 year old that what she did was ‘stealing’.
She had repeatedly argued that connecting to watch US Netflix via VPN service was a crime “It has to become socially unacceptable to admit to another human being that you are VPNing into U.S. Netflix.”
However it was argued by lawyers that Canadians accessing US Netflix was at best a ‘grey area’ but not stealing. Netflix pays rights holders regardless of how many times a title is viewed during the licence period. It is argued, a Canadian watching a program on U.S. Netflix would earn license holder more money, because additional viewers would potentially increase Netflix’s willingness to pay when the licence expires.
Further, many shows are licensed worldwide and Netflix pays for that license regardless where it is streamed. And lastly, Netflix is well aware of the practice of accessing the U.S. service, but has not taken steps to stop it.
In fact the availability of Netflix has reportedly been linked to a decrease in unauthorised, unpaid access by Canadians, suggesting that more people are paying for content.
NordVPN is committed to fighting for internet freedom. We argue that a responsible person who is paying to access a service by jumping a geo-fence, where a service provider has no objection to their access*, should have the right to do so, without being shamed for doing so.
On the topic of licences and copyright, Bill C-11 (Copyright Modernisation Act) was passed in January, 2015. It made it a legal requirement for Canadian ISPs (including Bell Canada) to forward copyright infringement notices to their subscribers. Which means, ISPs now have to log user info for at least 6 months.
* Netflix reps have mentioned blocking VPNs but no action was ever taken. Earlier this year, leaked Sony Documents shed some light as to why, – revealing that SONY Executives pressured Netflix to block VPNs, – continuously lobbying them.