Founded in Los Gatos, California 18 years ago, Netflix has established itself as one of the main providers of on-demand video streaming worldwide.
The hugely successful company has amassed over 70 million subscribers, the vast majority of its customers being located in the United States (approximately 43 million).
From the very beginning, the exact list of videos provided by Netflix has been dependent on each individual user’s IP address, geolocation allowing the service to identify the user’s exact physical address, and adapt its available content accordingly.
This way, subscribers from the United States could access videos catered solely to them, not being able to view content from the United Kingdom, Australia etc.
Similarly, streaming media destined for the American public couldn’t be viewed from outside the nation’s borders, error messages clearly stating that the video couldn’t be watched from the user’s location.
However, once unblockers, VPNs (virtual private networks) and open proxy servers were introduced, they allowed subscribers to conceal their IP address, and thus be granted access to a wider array of videos, while bypassing limitations imposed by licensing laws.
Thanks to a router connection based in a particular country, subscribers could view the entire selection of TV shows and movies available there, because the service wrongly assumed that they legitimately had the right to access that content.
However, it hadn’t been properly discouraged or regulated, the prohibition remaining a mere provision which was never actually enacted.
Now, everything is about to change, as the company is planning to take more decisive action against those trying to mislead the program into providing them with content they shouldn’t be privy to.
The measure, revealed in a blog post authored by David Fullagar, vice-president of content delivery architecture, comes in the heels of the service’s unprecedented expansion: now, video streaming via Netflix is possible across around 190 nations, with China being one of the main exceptions.
Apparently, in just a matter of weeks, it will only be possible to view shows and movies intended for one’s national audience, and software meant to hide the user’s real location will be rendered ineffective.
As company representatives point out, the measure will have no impact whatsoever on those who use the service without relying on VPNs and other illicit means in order to view region-blocked media.
Supposedly, the key mission for Netflix developers is to ensure that one day users from all over the globe will have access to the same video content, regardless of where they may be located.
This way, there will be no need for unblockers, since everyone will be able to watch a much wider selection of videos, with no limitations whatsoever.
However, such a mission seems virtually impossible to accomplish, given the fact that each country has a set of distinct copyright regulations.
There are no licensing laws that apply worldwide , and for a video to be streamed globally it would have to obtain that right across every single nation.
It’s precisely why streaming content is so variable from one geographical location to another, and as unblockers are progressively weeded out, gaining access to much broader content via Netflix will likely become more and more troublesome and challenging.
Image Source: Flickr