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Netflix denies VPN, proxy server crackdown

Reports that the streaming service is clamping down on overseas access to the US site are "false", the company says

Netflix has denied claims that it will be clamping down on customers using proxy servers or virtual private networks (VPNs) to access the superior US version of the service from overseas. Instead, the company has said its policy against VPNs remains unchanged and that a handful of VPNs should still work, contrary to reports earlier this week that movie studios were pressuring Netflix to tighten its international licensing arrangements.

Speaking at CES 2015 in Las Vegas, Netflix’s chief product officer Neil Hunt said, “The claims that we have changed our policy on VPN are false. People who are using a VPN to access our service from outside of the area will find that it still works exactly as it has always done.”

However, Netflix did re-iterate to the BBC that it regularly takes measures to block certain VPN providers who are named in movie and TV studio contracts, but that no special effort was being made to eradicate them completely.

“The reality is we blacklist known VPNs in accordance with our content contracts,” said Hunt. “Foxtel, for example, owns House of Cards in Australia so they kind of like us to block them. But we are not changing our policy. It remains the same as it ever was.”

Mr Hunt also told CNET that it wants to end the tradition of film and TV rights being sold by geographical location, instead favouring a global agreement to prevent this kind of licensing dispute. “Increasingly we will be relying on original content that we own worldwide,” he said. “Scenarios such as the case of Foxtel and House of Cards will become an historical footnote.”

Find out how to get US Netflix in the UK

The range of films available to US Netflix subscribers is far greater than it is here in the UK, with critically acclaimed hits such as Se7enPulp Fiction and Trainspotting amongst those that are theoretically only available to the US audience. Strangely, US subscribers also get British TV shows ahead of the UK. For example, Netflix US customers will soon get access to the BBC drama The Fall, starring Gillian Anderson, months before it’s added to Netflix UK, a measure designed to protect DVD and digital sales of the hit drama. 

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