Netflix’s Fight Against Copyright Infringement
It’s Friday night, you’re wearing a onesie and you are equipped for a full night of bingeing and procrastination. You sit on your couch, get your favorite blanket and snack and open your Netflix, only to have the website send you a message telling you that you’ve been caught with false location information. Such has been the current situation with many Canadians who have been trying to access a superior quality of entertainment.
If you are one of those people who doesn’t know how Netflix accounts work, or just doesn’t have one, then this may be a whole new world and a whole new issue to you. In order to understand the situation, we must know about Netflix and the companies which were created in order to exploit it.
The first thing to understand is, how are your entertainment options chosen? Netflix choses which television shows and movies can be given to which countries based off of contracts they make with whoever owns the copyrights to the content. Therefore, in most cases Netflix buys a certain film from a studio who choses where it can be broadcast.
It has been widely noticed by Canadian viewers who travel to the U.S. that the United States has a greater range of content and quality within their selection. When people started noticing this, a marketable opportunity appeared to some. More companies that demanded monthly subscription rates started forming, though which a much different product than Netflix is offered. They created these companies to help people work around Netflix’s policies and be able to change their location in order to change the range of shows available to them. These companies do not focus solely on Netflix; they offer the same service to any online streaming service which requires locational settings.
However, all this changed in January 2015. Netflix suddenly changed their tune and decided to go after all geoblocking companies. These companies used to be very vocal about their fight with Netflix, saying they would never back down and always fight for viewer’s rights. Things have changed since then, though it is not due to a lack of caring. Big companies who used to offer these services like UFlix and UnblockUS have spoken out about these changes. As much as the businesses want to help out, they are constantly being found and reported by Netflix. The more they are shut down, the more money it starts to cost for them to repeatedly update themselves.
So what does this mean for Canadian viewers, especially us students, who look to Netflix as our trusty procrastination machine? There are several options. The first being that people can keep downloading new software to work around geoblocking, though this requires considerably more work than necessary. We can always go back to pirating and streaming shows online. Or, we could all stop procrastinating forever… The most realistic solution, though, might just be to live and let live, and keep an eye on these online interactions. Who knows? Something could change.