Earlier this year, Netflix began to crack down on those using VPNs to access content not available in their geographical region. This began in earnest in Australia, but recently Canadians have also found themselves unable to use VPN services to access Netflix internationally.
Instead of simply accepting this and watching something else, however, Canadian users are increasingly turning to piracy, according to a CBC report. Users don’t look at what they’re doing as illegal, and are baffled that Netflix would rather turn away revenue than let them access content in a different country.
Of course, Netflix itself would probably like nothing better. These restrictions are largely due to efforts by Hollywood studios to impose exclusive per-country licensing agreements. With Netflix’s global expansion, begun earlier this year, now in full swing, this has become a much larger problem for studios than it was at first. As a result, many countries’ libraries are much smaller than what’s available in the U.S.
“It’s kind of frustrating because you try to be legal, you try to be aboveboard. And they’re just big bullies and I’m really tired of big bullied,” former Netflix customer Suzan Lorenz told the CBC. “It just really annoys me someone out there is censoring and telling us what we can see.”
Lorenz is only one among many who are considering turning to piracy in Canada, and that’s a bigger problem than Netflix might have anticipated. A recent study shows that not only are Canadians bigger cord-cutters than Americans, but the study’s author Brahm Eiley says that Canadians are “kind of more comfortable going out and finding content in whatever creative way they want,” which could mean streaming, but could also lead to piracy when the former isn’t available.
In Netflix’s earnings call last week, CEO Reed Hastings called those affected by recent VPN bans “a very small but quite vocal minority,” adding that they were inconsequential to the company’s future. Even if that’s the case, while the company’s subscriber base has been growing, it’s stock price has not been keeping pace, suggesting that while Netflix is on top for now, it isn’t invincible.