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More Unblocking Companies Give Up Their Fight Against Netflix (techspot.com) 213

Earlier this year, Netflix announced it was going to block the VPN services that were circumventing the streaming service's geoblocking technology, and it seems in the months since many of the top VPN players have given up on finding ways to workaround Netflix's block tech. From a report on TechSpot (condensed): Australian company uFlix discovered that some of its users could no longer access Netflix. It said that a fix was coming soon, but, uFlix announced recently in a recent blog post that it has given up the fight. "As of today we are going to stop supporting Netflix as an unblocked channel. Unfortunately every time we set up a new network or find a workaround it is getting blocked within hours." Uflix isn't the only service to throw in the towel -- most of the other unblockers have quietly decided to stop trying to evade Netflix's geoblocks, as more customers complain they can no longer watch the streaming site. Popular VPN TorGuard had assured customers that the crackdown wouldn't affect them. But there is no mention of Netflix on TorGuard's website, and its shared Netflix server was taken offline four months ago.
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More Unblocking Companies Give Up Their Fight Against Netflix

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  • by kilfarsnar ( 561956 ) on Monday October 17, 2016 @10:05AM (#53090391)
    Contact Netflix and tell them you are cancelling your subscription due to this action on their part. That's really the only leverage you have over them. It is not in the customer's interest that they are doing this.
    • Contact Netflix and tell them you are cancelling your subscription due to this action on their part. That's really the only leverage you have over them. It is not in the customer's interest that they are doing this.

      This. I'll do it right after I finish catching up on Luke Cage.

    • by Tukz ( 664339 ) on Monday October 17, 2016 @10:14AM (#53090453) Journal

      And what do you expect them to do?

      It's not Netflix' choice, it's their content providers requiring them to do this.

      • by kilfarsnar ( 561956 ) on Monday October 17, 2016 @10:36AM (#53090645)

        And what do you expect them to do?

        It's not Netflix' choice, it's their content providers requiring them to do this.

        I'm not sure what I expect them to do. But the bottom line is cancelling one's service is the only real leverage one has over a company. You can complain, and they might listen. But at the end of the day if their product does not meet your needs, stop buying the product.

        I know they have agreements with the content owners, but that is not my problem. I didn't negotiate those agreements. My problem (if I traveled outside the US much) is that I can't see the programs or movies that I want and paid for. If their licensing agreements become unprofitable because of lost business, Netflix will have to renegotiate or stop carrying that content. If they can absorb the loss of revenue but still maintain an acceptable profit, they will continue as usual. But all I can do is buy their service or not.

      • It's not Netflix' choice, it's their content providers requiring them to do this.

        Netflix keeps dumping third-party content in favor of its own self-produced stuff. So it's making less and less sense for people defending Netflix to keep playing that "it's not their fault, they have no choice" card.

        If they can determine that quickly which people are using a vpn service, they can certainly choose to offer some limited set of stuff to those customers. Incidentally, it'd also be a good bellwether regarding whether any significant number of people actually care about the self-produced conten

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          You don't seem to know what you're talking about. People are using VPNs to circumvent the blocking of content based on location. Netflix's original content is already available everywhere, they don't restrict it by location, so your first statement is just nonsense, the content the control is not the content being blocked. As for allowing them some limited service when they're on a VPN, you are describing what is available if they stop using a VPN to circumvent the geoblocking. Doesn't take a "Netflix emplo

        • by tlhIngan ( 30335 ) <slashdot@@@worf...net> on Monday October 17, 2016 @12:58PM (#53092175)

          Netflix keeps dumping third-party content in favor of its own self-produced stuff. So it's making less and less sense for people defending Netflix to keep playing that "it's not their fault, they have no choice" card.

          If they can determine that quickly which people are using a vpn service, they can certainly choose to offer some limited set of stuff to those customers. Incidentally, it'd also be a good bellwether regarding whether any significant number of people actually care about the self-produced content (cue the Netflix employees browsing Slashdot in 3, 2, 1...).

          Unlike Amazon, all the content Netflix produces is available everywhere that Netflix has service. So you don't need a VPN to access Netflix-produced content. At all.

          And Netflix has service practically everywhere.

          So the only reason you use a VPN is it access content on another Netflix in another country, as Netflix just checks where you're logging in from to determine your content. So if you travel to the US, you get to see the entire US catalog while you're there, even if you have a Canadian Netflix account.

          So yes, it's the content provider's fault. In Canada, you cannot legally stream The Simpons, because Fox has given all North American streaming rights to FXX. Which doesn't serve Canada at all. So once it airs, it's one. None of the legal Canadian streaming services, free or otherwise, carry it. So if you miss the broadcast, tough luck, you have to pirate it.

      • ...where people will go when they cannot access their desired content through approved channels.

      • If the content providers find their financial arrangements with Netflix agreeable, then perhaps this move would give Netflix a little bit of leverage. Ultimately, should Netflix continue to create original content, they could ultimately tell their content providers to shove off.

    • by houstonbofh ( 602064 ) on Monday October 17, 2016 @10:19AM (#53090515)
      If you needed the VPN to use it, you should not have been a customer in the first place... They are doing it because the agreements require them to.
  • by xtal ( 49134 ) on Monday October 17, 2016 @10:12AM (#53090433)

    As a bonus, the VPN does a great job of neutering threats.

    I pay Netflix because I hate the media companies. Netflix will win.

    Netflix is not the enemy. The rent-seeking copyright holders are; so hit them where it hurts.

    If they don't want my money.. the Torrents doth provide.

    • Better selection too...
    • Piracy is very reliable indeed! I never switched from Piracy and as such, have never suffered any kind of geoblock or service outage. Also, Piracy lets you save shows (in fact it usually saves them by default), and viewing is completely device-agnostic, so it even works on my weird old GNU/Linux phone! I've never needed any other service than Piracy and have no plans to switch.

  • The verb? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Megane ( 129182 ) on Monday October 17, 2016 @10:14AM (#53090449) Homepage

    many of the top VPN players have given up on finding ways to Netflix's block tech.

    Maybe they could try to accidentally Netflix's block tech.

  • I wonder how Netflix is doing this. More importantly, I hope they're not sharing this technology with countries like Iran or China.
    • Look at how many concurrent streams come from a specific IP and then block it. Not rocket science here...
      • Plus they already know which accounts have used VPNs in the past and are likely to do so in the future. "Oh, 4 accounts that have used VPNs have just shown up on this previously-unseen IP range".

        I haven't really understood why they don't just say that your subscription fee only covers the region in which you subscribe. Then they'd at least get double the subscription fee from someone who uses it in their own country + another country.

        • I haven't really understood why they don't just say that your subscription fee only covers the region in which you subscribe. Then they'd at least get double the subscription fee from someone who uses it in their own country + another country.

          That would be rather annoying for people who travel a lot, but Netflix could do something related. They could lock the content to the home address you have given them for payment. Then you can watch from anywhere in the world but your content is locked to your home country.

          • That's what spotify do. I'm not sure i've heard of a lot of people seeking out US spotify accounts so they can access american music overseas - but maybe it does happen.

      • If they're using TCP you can look at how long it takes to get an ACK from data send, basically a TCP ping. If it's outside of a certain range, it's probably on a VPN

        Anything over 50ms? Flag. Multiple connections? Flag Multiple accounts, same IP address? Flag

        The only way I can think of getting around this is to use your own host and use something like a VPN and TOFFEE.

        • by jandrese ( 485 )
          Shitty cable modem provider? Probably a VPN, ban.
        • If they're using TCP you can look at how long it takes to get an ACK from data send, basically a TCP ping. If it's outside of a certain range, it's probably on a VPN

          Central and south Texas have a lot of Wireless ISPs to cover the vast regions of nothing... OK bandwidth, but very bad latency. Sometimes 100ms.

      • It's not really that simple. I tried setting up a VPN using a basic Amazon EC2 machine. When I first tried it, I was able to watch US Netflix. The second time I attemped to use this method it ended up blocking me. My AWS machine did switch IPs in the interim, as I had stopped it and restarted it, so it may have just picked up an IP that was already banned, but I think they are doing a lot more than just checking how many people are using a particular IP address otherwise they may end up doing things like

    • I am sure it is simply whack-a-mole, but they have a dedicated team for it and there are only so many VPN providers of a scale that matter...

      I am sure that a single person could easily handle monitoring of dozens of VPN providers.

  • So next year... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mashiki ( 184564 ) <mashiki@NospAM.gmail.com> on Monday October 17, 2016 @10:15AM (#53090463) Homepage

    So next year we'll be seeing the stats that piracy is increasing again since hollywood and so on decided that region locking was a really good idea. I know of quite a few people here in Canada who've simply cancelled their netflix subs, kept the VPN and now pirate everything like they did a few years ago.

  • They really ought to have an international ban on geoblocking/locking. It's just a pain for everybody involved.
  • To start running OpenVPN and letting anyone they know personally abroad connect in and view the content they want. My connection should be able to handle 2 or 3 more regular HD Netflix streams in and out. They block my IP? Big deal, I can convince the ISP's DHCP server to assign me a new one. Once they've blocked enough dynamic residential IPs to piss everyone off, they'll most likely just give up.

    It's easy to play whack-a-mole when there are only a handful of very visible moles. Put millions of them underg

    • by geek ( 5680 )

      To start running OpenVPN and letting anyone they know personally abroad connect in and view the content they want. My connection should be able to handle 2 or 3 more regular HD Netflix streams in and out. They block my IP? Big deal, I can convince the ISP's DHCP server to assign me a new one. Once they've blocked enough dynamic residential IPs to piss everyone off, they'll most likely just give up.

      It's easy to play whack-a-mole when there are only a handful of very visible moles. Put millions of them underground and see how much effort the rent-seekers are willing to spend on blocking.

      1) Securing your own network from a foreigner connecting to it would be a pain.
      2) Data caps in the US make this untenable.
      3) Why should US citizens pay so that foreigners can watch our videos? Shouldn't you just unsub from Netflix and let them know why?

      • I mean for friends and family abroad, not random foreigners. Why? As both a friendly gesture to them, and a middle finger to the rent-seekers, that's why. I'm personally not affected by a cap, so that part's no big deal, and I can handle securing the network.

        Although I agree, unsubbing sounds great in practice, and I'd absolutely do it in a heartbeat (Cable TV, too), except the whole family would have me strung up in the back yard about 5 minutes after I do it. I've found most people under the age of 30 in

      • by hackel ( 10452 )

        > Why should US citizens pay so that foreigners can watch our videos? Shouldn't you just unsub from Netflix and let them know why?

        You realise this goes two-ways, right? There is a lot of content geo-blocked to people in the US as well (especially in Canada). And what does citizenship have to do with this? It only matters *where* the endpoint of the internet connection is, it has nothing to do with the nationality of the user paying for that connection. U.S. Americans travelling abroad should be able

  • I know people here in Canada who use a vpn to get around the blocks netflix uses because American Netflix has more choices than here... when the subject came up just a few weeks ago about something like this, he has, in about as many words, plainly admitted that he will torrent the shows he watches if they ever make it otherwise impossible for him to watch.
    • The problem with pirating is you have to be pretty technical to not only find and download your copies but also savvy enough to avoid malware. How many times will a non-techy have to be burned by a pwnd system that they have to then spend hundreds on either repairing or replacing before they decide that it isn't worth the risk? I am guessing once.

      • by ADRA ( 37398 )

        The bar for malware is:
        - User must be savvy enough to install torrent software and know about torrent sites
        - User must be savvy enough to install a video player which can playback files
        - User must be non-savvy enough to click on torrents that have executables instead of movie files

        I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but unless instructed extremely bad by those helping you set this stuff up, the surface area for malware is lower than you make it out to be.

        This to verify when using ANY l

  • Geo-blocking movies is like geo-blocking automobiles, and it makes about as much sense. Can you imagine a car dealer or rental agency telling you "sorry, your car won't work in the following geographic areas"? Geo-blocking is all about artificial scarcity, and if it was being done between US states it might even be treated as collusion. But since it's an international thing, the law says it's OK. Movie watchers beg to differ.

    Thanks to the Internet, the world is now a very small place; when a movie is releas

    • by ADRA ( 37398 )

      No, cars are almost universally 'geoblocked' because of safety standards and tariffs. There's little of artificial scarcity in play here. I've had many friends import their cars from around the world for one reason or another, but they've largely been able to do so after paying up the nose and having the cars' safety/regulatory features brought to spec.

      Example: Canada requires daytime running lights. Every car, basically no exceptions(?). We don't stop all Americans from driving their non-daylight-running-l

      • by hackel ( 10452 )

        If you are Canadian, YOU are an American. Stop trying to pretend like you're this magical "other". It's a huge continent, and we're all in this together. I'm not defending the United States' absurd lack of regulation, nor our many idiot residents that can't be bothered to use things like seat belts--that is truly astounding in this day and age. I just get sick of stuck-up Canadians, Mexicans, Brazilians, etc. pretending that they aren't Americans just as much as we are.

        • by ADRA ( 37398 )

          The United States propaganda machine has worked it magic on me too well. When I hear 'America' now, I infer hearing the United States of America. Though technically true that we're all residents of the two America continents, the 'word usage' for this word is far too muddy to be used without confusion. Apologies.

      • by PRMan ( 959735 )
        My dad would have died if wearing a seatbelt. Yes, the odds are better, but he's alive because he was NOT wearing one. Because of the law, he switched. He's also alive because he was wearing one.
  • Maybe not use NetFlix? I don't. Why should I when I can watch video lectures on YouTube?
  • I want to enjoy television, but all of this walled garden crap has to end. There are more content providers producing original content which require me to subscribe to multiple services which I don't have money for or time to enjoy.

    The only thing I currently have is Amazon Prime and the only reason I have it is because I get other Amazon services for free. I could care less about their selection although it is improving. I am not going to subscribe to any of these services and while I am falling behind o

  • As an European, when my VPN finally failed a few months ago, I simply cancelled Netflix.

    Since then, I've spent the same level of money I used to pour into Netflix + VPN to buy Blu-Rays of recent good movies (a pretty rare occurrence per year, given the abysmal quality of movies). On the whole, I'm pretty happy with the change.

    As for TV series, it's not like if there were many "The Shield", "Breaking bad" or other gems of that level around, so I expect the investment to be pretty low.

    In the end it's a win,

    • by hackel ( 10452 )

      So basically, you are just continuing to *support* the media companies that force Netflix to implement these draconian measures. Congratulations.

      • Why, thank you. But your conclusions are a bit hasty. You are presuming both to know the media companies that are pushing this, and that the movies I like are made by them.

        Instead of paying a fee for a global heap of crap, I only pay for the few select ones that are worth it.
        So you could say now I only support the select few good quality products, which is largely deserved.

  • quit watching TV, they need viewers, and without viewers they will go bankrupt, too bad the population dont get it so they wont follow my advise
    • "Your" advice has already been put in practice by lots of people for many years now.
      TVs are selling brain availability to announcers. Like for facebook, the viewer is the product.
      To escape advertising, many people have simply cut themselves from TV (as well as "people" crap etc)
      Recently, TV has been in decline (I'm not sure if it covers my area, or the whole world) as the "younger" generation increasingly sees no interest in a non-interactive media.

  • If only Netflix supported net neutrality, you know the system where everyone receives what they've paid for.
  • by hackel ( 10452 ) on Monday October 17, 2016 @02:27PM (#53093175) Journal

    These customers were trying to actually *pay* for the content they wanted, as opposed to just pirating it, and still the asshole executives stuck in the 20th century insist on trying to block it. This is so incredibly disappointing. Surely we can continue to band together to oppose these absurd geo-restrictions. I have no doubt that the people at Netflix are very talented and will continue figuring out ways to stop it, but we have the numbers behind us. If media companies want to prevent piracy, they need to stop trying to control how and where we can access the media we have voluntarily chosen to pay for. They need to start treating us like actual *customers* instead of fighting us like the enemy.

    • by EvilSS ( 557649 )
      Pirating the content is about the only means available to them to send a message to the studios (who are really the ones causing most of this) that they need to join us in the 21st century and either make sure that their content partners are providing streaming in their regions, or uncouple the streaming rights so Netflix or someone like them can provide it. It's a bit insane that people want to pay for content, and there exists the means to provide it, but it's being held back by these antiquated deals.
  • Netflix currently insists that one install SilverLight which is a Microsoft program in order to view NetFlix. This slaps Linux users right out of the boat and is a serious insult for those who refuse to run Windows products. It is an unacceptable situation. It is as if it is a conspiracy to force people to run Windows.
    • by PRMan ( 959735 )
      You can buy an Android or iOS tablet, that run on Linux and BSD respectively, and watch it on there.
  • One more thing... Much of the need for these pathetic geo-restrictions is actually the *music* industry, funnily enough. Because they sell distribution rights to copyrighted music to a different companies in every country, licensing a work for streaming in one country requires a whole different set of agreements than in another country. I believe this is why, even if a content provider like the BBC wants to make its content available everywhere, they can't until they've secured the rights for every song

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