Tallahassee Journal

Myth-busting Netflix’s rumored VPN crackdown

Myth-busting Netflix’s rumored VPN crackdown

Netflix was all over the news lately, because the company is said to have cracked down on illicit video streamers from abroad. These are paying customers, accessing the service from unauthorized locales, using various types of computer networking trickery. Netflix’s content providers don’t like this, because they’d rather get paid again for each new geographical market’s license for the same video content. So, the story goes, Netflix is locking out foreign users of virtual private networks.netflix-building-fromap

Some parts of this story are legit. Netflix does have a significant number of paying customers in markets that don’t have access to the service yet. Australia is said to have about 200,000 such VPN-slinging Netflix subscribers, though the company won’t officially open its doors there until later this spring. Japan is another hot spot, with no properly licensed Netflix service on the horizon at all. The movie industry would much rather continue pushing DVDs, Blu-rays, and whatever local streaming options might exist in these markets until Netflix starts paying for the correct multinational licenses.

The original report from TorrentFreak about Netflix blocking VPN users actually focused on a DNS change. The latest version of the Neflix app for Android devices will ignore the name server settings on your phone or tablet, with a reference to Google ‘s (GOOG) free DNS service hard-coded into the app.

Netflix customers Down Under and elsewhere who had simply pointed their systems to an American name server were thus out of luck. The Google DNS service pays attention to where you’re connecting from, and the 8.8.8.8 gateway will point you to a nearby DNS server with local results on tap. That means asking for the computer-readable address to www.netflix.com will give you different results when connecting from Florida or Nebraska, not to mention from its foreign markets in Europe and Latin America. And trying it from Tokyo or Sydney won’t get you to a usable Netflix service at all.