Netflix recently made a lot of Canadians sad by announcing a block on using VPNs and proxies to access its services, shutting down a popular, semi-shady way to watch TV online. But according to CEO Reed Hastings, it’s no big deal because no one was doing that anyway.
As part of an earnings call to announce Netflix’s latest set of financial results, Hastings talked a little more about the new policy:
“I don’t think we’ll see any impact, we’ve always enforced proxy blocks with a blacklist, now we’ve got an enhanced and expanded blacklist, so I don’t think we’re going to see any huge change.”
On further questioning, Hasting admitted that Netflix banned VPNs at the request of its content providers, citing “legitimate demands.” But Hastings didn’t want to dwell on the policy at all—rather, he thinks that the entire problem can be solved by a shift to global licensing, which would see the same content available on Netflix around the world.
Hasting’s aim is certainly a good one—global licensing would sort out a mess of content agreements and make things better for consumers down the line. But until studios stop treating Netflix as the root cause behind types of piracy—which is exactly what hammering for a VPN ban reeks of—and starts addressing the underlying cause with affordable, convenient streaming options, pirates are just going to go find a way of streaming that doesn’t cost them anything at all.