If you're using a VPN service to bypass Netflix's geographic restrictions, take note: the company apparently recently updated its subscription terms and conditions by stating that users watching content on Netflix via a VPN could be banned from using the service.
This means that the site is likely cracking down on those users who watch Netflix content from countries other than their own through VPN services and proxies.
Reddit user CrypticCraig recently noticed the new addition to the site's terms and conditions and pointed out what he believes is a new paragraph that addresses the use of VPN services.
Netflix's Article 6c now states:
"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. The content that may be available to watch will vary by geographic location. Netflix will use technologies to verify your geographic location."
That is later followed by Article 6h, which states that Netflix can terminate service without compensation if it suspects that anyone is in violation of its terms.
The problem is that many of Netflix's users have VPN services. Some of those are travelers who often travel outside of their home countries, but still watch Netflix programming while traveling (as Netflix, for some odd reason, doesn't let viewers watch content from their legitimate accounts from countries outside of those they signed up from). Others use virtual private networks to watch at higher download speeds so they get better quality.
CrypticCraig recommends that Netflix users let the company know about their VPN concerns here. However, Reddit poster sfiggs notes the company's product chief said in January the company has no plans to crack down on users who access its services via VPNs.
Of course, it's likely that Netflix won't act upon VPN violations, but that the company added the new terms to satisfy the major movie studios. Also, the terms don't actually mention the use of VPNs or proxies.
"There has not been any recent change in UnoTelly's service," says a representative for UnoTelly, a service that provides such VPN services. "Our customers can continue to use our DNS and VPN services as normal. In an event that a customer experiences a disruption in service, he or she can contact us and we will help them to quickly restore access."
A VPN service creates a tunnel that changes or masks a user's IP address to make it appear as though the user is accessing the site from another location. DNS services change a user's Domain Name Server so sites think the user is eligible to access their content. They've been compared to an Internet phone book and change domain names to Internet Protocol (IP) numerical addresses.
The use of VPN and DNS services does, however, highlight Netflix's inadequacies in offering worldwide content. That's not in the company's hands, however - it lies with those licensing the content: the movie and production studios. Although geographic restriction is an antiquated notion, the major studios still want to have some control of who sees what from where.
[Photo Credit: Netflix]