The Productivity Commission Wants to Let You Watch US Netflix

How shit is it when an interesting looking YouTube clip pops up in your Facebook feed, only to greet you with that stupid, awkward face and the message “this content is not available in your region?” Or not having access to the huge library of Netflix content available in the US? I’d say at least ten shits.

This is commonly referred to as Geoblocking, or as any Australian Netflix user would call it – complete bullshit. It prevents certain content being viewed in a region based on it’s own laws or rights holders. Game of Thrones is a perfect example – Foxtel own the exclusive rights to show it in Australia, and they ain’t gonna give them up without a fight. Probably because it’s the last good card they have left in their dwindling, ad-ridden hand.

Many tech savvy folk have been circumventing this problem by using Virtual Private Networks (VPN’s) that allow them to access internationally available content through Netflix or other providers. While this is technically not illegal, it’s a bit of a grey area that is frowned upon by the government.

But the Productivity Commission of Australia thinks this all a load of crap, releasing a draft report on it’s 12-month inquiry into our intellectual property system. And while some say the system is a necessary annoyance that protects the income of content producers, the report say it’s only used to exploit customers.

“The use of geoblocking technology is pervasive, and frequently results in Australian consumers being offered a lower level of digital service (such as a more limited music or TV streaming catalogue) at a higher price than in overseas markets,” says the report.

And in a massive high-five to binge-watchers everywhere, they recommend canning the implementation of any laws that prevent us from continuing to work around geoblocking.

“The Australian Government should seek to avoid any international agreements that would prevent or ban consumers from circumventing geoblocking technology.”

Furthermore, it agrees that Australian consumers are slugged more for content and are often given a delayed, shitty service. To use Netflix as an example, at February this year, we had access to a little over 2,000 titles, while the US was a touch under 5,800. That’s no small gap.

The final version of the report won’t be delivered until August, so we won’t know much more until then, but it’s sure to be an exciting time for all.

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