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Following its crackdown on VPNs, Netflix is now targeting pirate websites

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Early this year, Netflix announced a massive expansion that saw content from the company available in most countries worldwide, but that didn’t mean that each country got the same content, or even much content. Partly to protect its own content and partly to help keep the rights holders the company deals with happy, Netflix began cracking down on VPN use to watch content not available in the user’s geographical region.

This, of course, led to an uptick in piracy numbers, but piracy of Netflix content has been an issue for some time. While the company had turned a blind eye to this before, that isn’t the case anymore, as Netflix has begun to issue takedown requests to a number of sites hosting pirated versions of its shows, TorrentFreak reports.

For a long time, Netflix said that it didn’t spend much effort attempting to curb piracy, and even used piracy numbers to help it decide what shows to buy and where to make programming available. “Certainly there’s some torrenting that goes on, and that’s true around the world, but some of that just creates the demand,” Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said in 2013.

Now, however, working with its anti-piracy partner Vobile, Netflix has begun to report links it believes are related to pirated content to Google, starting with 3,000 links in December of 2015. So far a total of 71,861 links have been reported, and many of these links have already been removed. The removed links all contained Netflix-owned content including like the series House of Cards, Narcos, Sense8, and the films A Very Murray Christmas and The Ridiculous 6.

In addition to reporting the links to Google, Netflix is taking a more proactive stance with some sites and reaching out and requesting that content be removed itself. As with the links reported to Google, all of the takedown requests have been related to Netflix-owned content, particularly House of Cards.

There are certainly some users out there who are downloading Netflix shows and movies because they don’t feel like paying, but a large portion of those pirating content are doing so because it isn’t available in their country – the same reason they were using VPNs before Netflix began blocking them. As Netflix doesn’t seem to be slowing down in its efforts to halt unauthorized viewing, let’s hope that the company is also working to bring its content to more people in an official manner.

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