Earlier this week, a number of Australian copyright lawyers said that using a VPN to stream content from overseas is not illegal, which might be big news for avid streamers.
The overwhelming popularity of online streaming services, like Netflix, has grown exponentially over the last couple of years, so much so, that traditional cable providers are starting to hurt. Despite its immense popularity, Netflix isn’t without its flaws. One downside of Netflix (and many other streaming services) is the fact that some of the content is geo-restricted – meaning that users in different countries will have access to different shows and movies.
VPN + Netflix a match made in heaven
This content discrepancy pushed some users to seek various workarounds in order to enjoy shows not offered in their country. The most popular geo-dodging solution has been through VPNs. As you probably know, VPNs make it incredibly easy for anyone to “change” their location, and due to the fact that it’s extremely affordable this workaround has a lot of appeal. As this solution grew more popular, copyright holders began pushing Netflix to crack down on perpetrators and deny access to the service unless used as intended.
Despite Netflix’s efforts, these workarounds remain possible – and regardless of what copyright holders claim, using a proxy to stream a TV show has been dubbed “not illegal” – not in Australia, at least.
Australians VPN streaming not breaking the law
Earlier this week Aussie lawyers cleared up this “grey area” by virtually saying that unless you’re downloading something, it’s not illegal. “In many ways it’s like peaking through a window to watch a movie without a ticket. It’s rude but not illegal in Australia,” said Andrew Calvin. He further explained that for a copyright to be violated a physical or digital copy must be made, which does not happen while streaming.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is even on the side of VPNs.
Other lawyers said that even if it was established that bypassing geo-restrictions was illegal under copyright law, there wouldn’t be much that Netflix or the film studios could do about it. The use of VPNs is likely to remain the same, if not become more popular, and attempting to pursue these hypothetical violations would be a waste of both, time and money for the copyright holders.
Not only would this violation be extremely difficult to prove – due to the nature of VPNs – but prosecuting geo-dodgers is simply not worth it. Experts agree that users found geo-dodging wouldn’t be liable for much more than a few dollars, because as Andrew Calvin nicely put, “the police doesn’t care that you’re watching Miss Marple.”
That being said, if you do want to watch Miss Marple, or countless of other geographically restricted TV shows and movies in your country, you can do so with the help of a VPN. Although most providers would do the trick, our favourites are IPVanish, StrongVPN, or ExpressVPN. For a complete rundown of what VPN is best to use, check out The 5 Best VPNs for Netflix article written by Chris.