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  1. TV networks in Australia are expressing fresh concern that local viewers are 'pirating' Netflix with help from VPN services. Officially unavailable Down Under, Netflix reportedly has up to 200,000 Aussie subscribers who evade geo-blocking mechanisms to happily pay for the service. While Netflix is without doubt a hit service credited for doing something positive in the battle against piracy, it needs to spread its wings even more widely. There is one region in particular that would love to see it arrive on its shores, but probably won’t for some time. Australia is often criticized for its appetite for unauthorized downloading but it’s a country with a better ‘excuse’ than most for engaging in it. Not only is legal content much more expensive than in the US, the region is continually under-served, meaning that locals resort to file-sharing networks for shows such as Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad, turning Australia into a per-head piracy front-runner. Netflix is blocked in Australia, partly because the big US studios have an exclusive deal with media giant News Corp to show content. On the Internet, however, news travels fast. Googling “netflix australia” turns up dozens of articles explaining how to circumvent the Netflix geo-blocking mechanism to (shock, horror) actually PAY to watch Netflix in Australia using VPN services and proxies. Naturally there are no official figures on how many people watch Netflix this way but estimates range from 20,000 up to 200,000 subscribers. Highlighting how the TV networks view these people, an article this morning in News Corp-owned The Australian went as far as labeling subscribers as “pirates”, even though they are paying for the service. “There is concern at local networks about the growing impact of the US company flouting international regulations by accepting payments from Australian credit cards, despite maintaining a geo-block that is easily bypassed by VPN manipulation or spoof IP addresses,” the paper said. But do subscribers deserve to be called pirates when they are showing the clearest possible buying signals? In 2011, then Attorney-General Robert McClelland gave his opinion. “In relation to the use of VPNs by Australians to access services such as Hulu and Netflix, on the limited information provided there does not appear to be an infringement of copyright law in Australia,” McClelland told The Australian, the same News Corp-owned publication now calling Aussie Netflix subscribers “pirates”. But with Netflix not having to go to the expense of setting up in Australia in order to service the region, rivals in the same market area are also feeling uneasy. “The studios have licensed Netflix to distribute content on particular terms in the US and other larger markets, they haven’t licensed Netflix for Australia,” said Quickflix chief executive Stephen Langsford this morning. “I have no doubt that the studios are in discussions with Netflix about VPNs because it is blatantly in breach of terms and Netflix is essentially getting a free ride into Australia.” Quickflix currently has around 100,000 full subscribers so if the highest estimates are to be believed, the company has potentially half the 200,000 “unauthorized” subscribers Netflix already has in Australia. The only real solution to the situation with Netflix, VPNs, piracy and the Australian content problem is to properly service the region with legal video in a timely fashion and at a reasonable price. By now it’s a stuck record, but anything else simply won’t work. Source: TorrentFreak
  2. There are a number of different ways to do this, but when you get down to it all they all do the same thing, which is change your IP address so it looks like you’re in another country. Some use proxy servers, others use VPNs, and there are hundreds of different options in each category. But arguably the easiest way to unblock movies on Netflix and take a peek at what’s available in other regions is to install a browser extension called Hola. Here’s a quick rundown of how to do it: Download and install Hola for your browser of choice and complete the free sign up process if you’re prompted to. Head over to Netflix. (Everything should look the same). Click on the Hola icon (looks like a flaming smiley face) and change your location to a different country of your choice. Refresh and the selection should include a bunch of new movies and TV shows you didn’t previously have access to.Enjoy...
  3. Despite the growing number of legal alternatives, millions of people prefer to pirate movies and TV-shows via BitTorrent instead of watching them on Netflix. Bram Cohen, the inventor of the BitTorrent protocol, says he would probably be a pirate too if he was just a regular guy since “pirate” alternatives offer much better resolutions than streaming services such as Netflix. Earlier this year the season finale of Game of Thrones was pirated by more than five million people using the popular BitTorrent protocol. While unauthorized downloading is nothing new, it appears that many of these pirates still prefer the BitTorrent option even though they can watch the show for free on Netflix. And we’re not talking about trivial numbers here. News Corp CEO Robert Thomson estimated that no less than 20% of all Foxtel subscribers who already paid for access to the show chose to pirate it instead. With other popular shows such as Breaking Bad a similar pattern emerges. According to Bram Cohen, the inventor of BitTorrent and chief scientist of the similarly named company, this doesn’t come as a surprise. Talking with the BBC’s Click, Cohen notes that in terms of video delivery BitTorrent is far superior to the systems currently used by Netflix and other video services. “The fact is that by using BitTorrent it’s possible to give customers a much better experience with much less cost than has ever been possible before. It’s really not being utilized properly and that’s really unfortunate,” Cohen says. BitTorrent’s inventor says he doesn’t own a TV at home, but he does watch Netflix on occasion. However, not with too much pleasure as the video quality that’s offered by the streaming service is less than acceptable. “I actually don’t have a TV at home myself, but I do watch stuff on Netflix and I find it very frustrating because the video quality is really terrible,” Cohen says. Cohen believes that many pirates share similar frustrations, which may explain why so many people pirate video content via BitTorrent, even those who have a Netflix account and can watch it legally. In fact, if he wasn’t such a prominent figure he probably be a pirate himself. “I really go out of my way to not do the slightest hint of pirating anything ever, but if I were just some nobody [...] I would probably pirate some of the stuff that I can watch on Netflix and already paid for, because I’d like to watch it in higher resolution.” Moving on to the legal aspects of piracy, Cohen doesn’t believe that copyright infringement is a crime that’s on par with manslaughter or shoplifting, but stops short of explaining exactly what it is. “Copyright infringement is not a crime in the way that beating up someone is a crime, or stealing an actual physical good form a store is a crime. It’s something else.” Looking at the future, Cohen says he eventually hopes to be remembered for more than just creating one of the most disruptive technologies for the entertainment industries. According to him there are more important things he can delve into, including power generation and 3D printing. “I don’t think my work is done,” Cohen says. Source: TorrentFreak
  4. Video streaming giant Netflix is considering a move to peer-to-peer assisted streaming. The company has put up a job posting for a Senior Software Engineer tasked with integrating P2P technology into its streaming services. Could a BitTorrent-powered Netflix be coming soon? With over 33 million streaming subscribers in the U.S. alone, Netflix is one the major providers of online video entertainment. The company claims to be a piracy killer, and previously noted that unauthorized P2P traffic reduced in countries where their services were rolled out. Interestingly enough, the streaming service also has a lot to gain from file-sharing technologies. A recent Netflix job ad spotted by Ars Technica, reveals that they are considering using P2P technology to improve their streaming services. “Netflix seeks a seasoned Senior Software Engineer with a special focus in peer-to-peer networks,” the company writes. The description of the new position has a clear focus on researching the possibility to allow users to stream videos via peer-to-peer technology. - Research and architecture of large-scale peer-to-peer network technology as applicable to Netflix streaming. - Liaise with internal client and toolkit teams to integrate P2P as an additional delivery mechanism. - Design and develop tools for the operation of peer-to-peer enabled clients in a production environment. Netflix mentions that the company is currently responsible for over 30% of all downstream traffic. Should it move towards P2P streaming, Netflix will also be the number one in terms of upstream bandwidth, a position currently dominated by BitTorrent traffic. Netflix’ job ad The option of P2P-assisted streaming became of interest again this year, after Netflix signed a deal with Comcast to pay for direct access to its network. With P2P technology, Netflix has the option to increase its streaming capabilities without additional bandwidth costs. In fact, not only could the company achieve superior streaming quality by using P2P technology, its bandwidth bills could even decrease. Bram Cohen, the inventor of BitTorrent, would welcome a P2P-powered Netflix. He previously said that video delivery via P2P is far superior to the systems currently used by Netflix and other video services. “The fact is that by using BitTorrent it’s possible to give customers a much better experience with much less cost than has ever been possible before. It’s really not being utilized properly and that’s really unfortunate,” Cohen said. According to Cohen, Netflix’s video streaming quality is currently less than acceptable. “I actually don’t have a TV at home myself, but I do watch stuff on Netflix and I find it very frustrating because the video quality is really terrible,” he noted. With P2P-assisted streaming it will be possible to stream videos in a higher quality than is currently possible, but whether Netflix will use a BitTorrent-inspired technology or something different is unknown at this point. In any case, it’s an interesting development to watch. Source: TorrentFreak
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