back to article The content business wants Netflix out of Australia

Debate about copyright and virtual private networks (VPNs) has reached such a pitch in Australia that at least one voice wants a policy that, taken literally, would have the effect of closing down Netflix in this country. I don't mean “stopping Australians from accessing Netflix US via VPNs”, I mean “bye-bye Netflix, go home …

  1. Smitty Werbenjaegermanjensen - he was #1!

    Sony/Netflix contract

    The wording of that contract, as shown in your article, suggests to me that HTTPS would suffice as an encrypted connection. An HTTPS connection is not a VPN. Therefore, secure transmission of content can occur even if VPNs were banned.

    I don't support the banning of VPNs - but the real issue is that content owners have made the mess themselves. By splitting up broadcast and online rights to different parties, poor suckers in Aus/NZ that want to consume the content have to either subscribe to multiple, costly services or resort to VPNs to get a reasonable service.

    Lastly - if someone is using Netflix overseas guess what - they're still paying for the content so unless we're being screwed (which we are) I don't see why Big Content would be upset anyway.

    1. Andy Barker

      Re: Sony/Netflix contract

      I agree with your HTTPS perspective. Also I'd say the wording reads more as "the content must be encrypted BEFORE sending over any connection". e.g. encrypted file sent over an unencrypted link would also match the definition.

    2. Michael Duke

      Re: Sony/Netflix contract

      Exactly. Look at the local launch of NetFlix in NZ. Something like 1500 items in the library compared to the nearly 9000 in the US service and we are being charged a 30% premium for access to that reduced library.

      Sky's Neon service is even more expensive at $20NZD a month and Spark's Lightbox is the same price as NetFlix @ $12.99NZD a month (Well actually 30 days).

      So to get the same coverage as NetFlix and Hulu Plus in New Zealand I need to spend $46NZD a month and get maybe 4000 items in the library. In the US $22NZD gets you access to NetFlix and Hulu Plus with a combined library of ~19,000 items.

      And the content providers wonder why Aus/NZ is a hotbed of torrents and stolen content.

    3. mijami

      Re: Sony/Netflix contract

      Big Content is upset because inhabitants of continent B want to see content before it is released in continent B and at the same time it is released in continent A. My guess is that they don't have the facilities to replicate sufficient film stock to release a film simultaneously in every theatre worldwide. As media transitions to digital this should no longer be an argument but old habits die hard. Maybe Big Content should transition to Big Bully. That they have applied regional coding to DVDs possibly reflects the problem with film stock.

      1. James Ashton

        Re: Sony/Netflix contract

        > As media transitions to digital

        "As"! It's happened. I've been to plenty of Australian cinema venues in the last year and they've all been purely digital so my guess is that at least 90% of cinemas receive their films from the courier on 3.5" hard disks. Cost of the hardware is going to be around $100. Gone are the days of celluloid and silver.

        The only reasons for staggering releases now are things like alignment with varying holiday dates in different countries. In fact there must be an incentive to align releases since surely people are less likely to go if they've already heard spoilers.

      2. dan1980

        Re: Sony/Netflix contract

        @mijami

        As you imply - the logistics of film stock distribution is just not really an issue anymore.

        The only real concern is that overseas content providers have to get their content approved (classified) for distribution in Australia (as in NZ). But, they have to do that for their local market too so there's no reason why they can't sort this out.

        No, the real 'problem' is that content providers are businesses and businesses want to maximise their profits - and one way they do that is by supplying different markets with different ranges of products and applying 'optimised' pricing regimes.

        In the past, these strategies not only worked, but were far more justified because things really did cost more to distribute in Australia. Now, given that the content in question is 'transported', stored and distributed digitally, it's just not justified anymore.

        The content producers want to maximise their revenues so have different arrangements in different markets. Just look at Game of Thrones - that constant companion when discussing copyright breaches in Australia. In the US, you can get it from iTunes or via HBO's streaming service. In Australia, it's via Foxtel. Only.

        These kind of deals are one reason for the restricted content and the higher prices - Netflix Australia can only provide the content they have licenses to provide in Australia and must price their service according to the fees charges by the license holders.

    4. chugs

      Re: Sony/Netflix contract

      A VPN encrypts everything that leaves the machine.

      HTTP over SSL only encrypts that particular connection and requires significant management at both ends to maintain the security. Leakage and other information can occur when the user makes unsecure connections. This means they are vunerable to a "man in the middle" attack for their unencrypted traffic. Once compromised and a RAT installed the target irrespective of how many SSL connections the targets private information would be exposed.

      A VPN on the other hand properly used consistently, constantly and properly would massively reduce the users vunerablity. You can even add more security layers to the VPN i.e. SSL making it even harder to decrypt.

      The problem with VPN's is the vendor of the software. MS as we know is utterly compromised by the NSA and FBI. This means law enforcement over the world at a certain level can easily decrypt MS VPN traffic.

  2. Martin Budden
    Go

    Just give me a decent legal way to download.

    Just give me a decent legal way to download. I'll use it.

    $1 movies and $5 series, HD, all titles available. I'll use it for the convenience and quality of service. Almost everyone will. And the content owners will make a fortune, simply because of the sheer volume of sales. Everyone wins.

    (But this won't happen because the Recording Industry Ass. of America is too greedy & stupid.)

    1. mr. deadlift
      Mushroom

      Re: Just give me a decent legal way to download.

      upvote for you and a "how hard is it to figure out" comment.

      do you remember that simpson's episode when Springfield gets the radioactive man film (pic related) and the vendors/mayor charge the movie producers taxes for everything? even a leaving town tax...

      that's exactly what this is, the tax payer funds it, the taxpayer gets an inferior production the taxpayer gets boned, all because the greedy trough-jockey-pig-politician wants to get his "legal" kickback.

      Oi, Malcolm et, al! go ruin another portfolio and leave the one potential infrastructure that might put Oz on a level playing field to someone else. Not that it'd make a difference.

      This is one of these times when government needs to gtfo out of business. Yes, Rupert i see your media share is going to take a hit by a superior platform - stop calling in those cronies in your back pocket and get with the times. /rant for now...

    2. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Just give me a decent legal way to download.

      Uh, you do know that the RIAA doesn't represent the movie industry, but the music industry?

      You want the other Ass.

      1. Vimes

        Re: Just give me a decent legal way to download. @Orlowski

        On a related note region locks affect audio content too.

        Just try being in the UK and buying audio books from Audibles US store if you need an example. For that matter is Spotify affected by this sort of thing?

      2. Martin Budden

        Re: Just give me a decent legal way to download.

        Good point about which Ass.

        I sit corrected.

    3. chugs

      Re: Just give me a decent legal way to download.

      @ Martin

      The problem isn't the greed of the US film, television, literature, software and music industries.

      The problem is Australians.

      Australian executives of FoxTel, Village Roadshow, Channels Nine, Ten and Seven, and all of the other distributors.

      These companies are a middle man in a huge racket where prices are kept the same across retailers.

      A bluray is the same price in almost every shop between Sydney and Perth. The price online is scarily the same.

      The greed is terrible. My partner worked in a major retailer buyers group as a junior buyer. She was privy to cost and aware that their RRP wasn't based whatsoever on cost.

      It was based on meaningless arbitary logic. The number of times i heard that they sipmly doubled or tripled the RRP (in relation to the cost price) was ridiculous.

      There was no COGs calculation nor were there any concerns of "Australia's high wages" or any other bull crap like that.

      In fact the irony was these buyers and executives paid themselves so much it was sickening.

      This is the true reason for the high cost Australian's are charged by Apple Australia, MS Australia and all the other major multi-nationals.

      Apple HQ does not dictate prices in every territory. That's up to the local management and they are greedy traitors.

      Leaches, sucking out of Australia billions of dollars that they don't even pay tax on. For godsake if they are going to be such massive parasites we might as well be taxing them .

      Of course cleverly these execs, like Paul Broad in the telecommunication industry are cleverly funnelling money into various consultancies that feed into the liberal and ALP.

      Look up Anthony Broad in the AEC database and you'll see that despite a flag waving liberal he has never made a single donation, in any election, to the State or Federal Liberal Party.

      He was apparently the biggest fundraiser at the O'Farrell election.

      So as you can see with my example our political system is easily corrupted. Not by foreigners. but by Australians who see us as human playthings.

  3. Thorne

    Morons

    "This dooms the federal government's hope to use the Copyright Act to ban VPNs – even in the limited case that the “primary” purpose is infringement."

    The whole point of using a VPN is so nobody knows what you are using it for, so how can they claim it's primary purpose is infringement? I might be using a VPN because maybe I don't like the idea of the idiots spying on me with the mandatory data retention scheme.

    If they don't know what I'm doing then how can they claim why I'm doing it?

    Clearly since I fear universal spying, I must be doing something wrong......

  4. Shane Sturrock

    Netflix doesn't want these regions

    Netflix themselves have stated that they want to make their entire library available globally. They're getting bigger and bigger and at some point they'll be able to do to the movie industry what Apple did to the music industry and impose their plan (Apple didn't want DRM and when they got big enough they made the music industry let them take DRM off iTunes) so hopefully the whole regional thing will become a moot point.

    TBH I signed up for Netflix in NZ and as an expat brit I've switched my Netflix region to the UK version. Not as big as the US one, but a better choice of documentaries without the hideous US style of short bursts of information followed by a recap and then another burst. The NZ selection is a little pitiful but still better than the competitors so with the combination of iTunes and Netflix (even if forced to use the NZ version only) I think I'm all set and probably won't be buying much in the way of Blu rays any more unless I'm really keen on the film or series.

    1. Google

      Re: Netflix doesn't want these regions

      Upvote for "hideous style of US documentaries". US broadcasters really seem to believe their audiences to be as stupid as they're made out to be around the web. Dramatic "Edge of your seat" music is added to interviewees' mundane one liners followed by lots of CGI with irrelevant beeps to illustrate a soldier taking a step towards the parapet.

      Compare some of the ww2 History Channel documentaties with "Wings of the Luftwaffe" documentaries, calmy narrated by a British presenter. You'd think with every action the Japanase took the USA was on the brink of becoming destroyed. Like when the Imperial Navy was hypothesizing building submarines capable of transporting a couple of light aircraft.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Netflix doesn't want these regions

      "Apple didn't want DRM and when they got big enough they made the music industry let them take DRM off iTunes"

      Bollocks. Apple used DRM as a selling point to incentivise the music industry to sell their catalogues through iTunes. Apple also used it to lock their iThing users into the Apple ecosystem.

      They only gave up on it when people started seriously suing them and other people were able to break the DRM within days of it being updated. Essentially, the cost / benefit ratio was no longer in Apples favour.

  5. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

    No requirement for TRANSPORT security at all

    The conditions of that contract can be satisfied by pre-encrypting the content, and using no link encryption at all. And that's what Netflix has been doing, in practice.

    TLS is fine for remote browsing, where network latency can hide CPU load, but when you're sending the huge volumes of steady traffic that Netflix (or similar) does, the TLS overhead on each connection becomes very significant. Encryption is CPU-bound, and content servers have historically been configured with fast I/O, and enough CPU to do authorization and to make sure all the DMA pipes are kept full.

    That said, although Netflix does not currently use HTTPS for content transport, it has completed a programme of infrastructure improvements that will allow it to roll out HTTPS in the very near future. (Overview here: http://arstechnica.com/security/2015/04/it-wasnt-easy-but-netflix-will-soon-use-https-to-secure-video-streams/ )

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No requirement for TRANSPORT security at all

      "but when you're sending the huge volumes of steady traffic that Netflix (or similar) does, the TLS overhead on each connection becomes very significant"

      A long-lived Netflix stream is the optimum case for TLS: you have one symmetric stream cipher operating, no repeated rekeying, and the traffic is unidirectional.

      It certainly would cause overhead at the Netflix side, where they may be encrypting tens of thousands of streams simultaneously; but at the user side, even a Raspberry Pi is more than capable of decrypting say 2Mbps (= 250KB/sec) of AES.

      Of course, the point that the content is almost certainly already encrypted and then decrypted inside some DRM-type environment means the need for transport security is moot.

      1. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

        Re: No requirement for TRANSPORT security at all

        It certainly would cause overhead at the Netflix side, where they may be encrypting tens of thousands of streams simultaneously;

        Er, yes, that was my point. Client load is of no concern to Netflix as they don't have to buy the client hardware (it can be of concern for cable/satellite VOD services however, as the set-top-box is another operator cost) - only the server-side cost is relevant to a service like theirs.

        Encryption is an expensive process. It's an order of magnitude more CPU intensive than simply copying a file to a socket (a task that is optimised to avoid ever needing to copying the data). The way that TLS is implemented as a userspace library in many webservers makes the situation worse: now encryption incurs at least two memory copies on top of the raw computational overhead of scrambling the bits.

        Here's a paper describing what changes Netflix made in FreeBSD to get HTTPS serving performance to an acceptable level https://people.freebsd.org/~rrs/asiabsd_2015_tls.pdf but even this optimised server is still about half of what their non-https content server can do.

  6. Evil Graham

    Cordell Jigsaw Zapruder

    Seriously?

    1. Berny Stapleton

      Re: Cordell Jigsaw Zapruder

      Zapruder's Other Films was a production company of Andrew Denton, he sold out to Cordell Jigsaw another production company, hence, Cordell Jigsaw Zapruder.

      http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/media/andrew-denton-sells-out-of-cordell-jigsaw-zapruder-and-quits-television/story-fna045gd-1226669746859

      Lookup Zapruder for relevance too.

  7. phil dude
    Joke

    options...

    1) His parents liked scrabble

    2) It a password to unlock something magical

    3) It is a Douglas Adam's character that didn't make the cut (Slartibarfast being the one that did).

    Ok need my coffee...

    P.

  8. jjcoolaus

    Without VPNs there is no business or government transacted over the internet

    Business and government rely on VPNs everyday.

    Not just the content industry, but every form of business and government organisation has some kind of VPN in place daily.

    These idiots need to:

    1) learn something about the internet

    2) compete with it

    3) give their CUSTOMERS what they have wanting for years - easy DRM-FREE access to content at a REASONABLE price.

    Look at netflix - they are a billion $ company and they charge their users $12 a month. All these studios could be making billions from customers as well, unfortunately they have allowed these middle-men "distributors" to get rich on their content, and that's unacceptable to the 21st century consumer who will just keep on trucking in the piracy until these idiots wake up.

    1. Thorne

      Re: Without VPNs there is no business or government transacted over the internet

      What they need is a standardized method of access. Cost is irrevellent as it can be paid for by advertising or the consumer directly.

      Partner with an advertising company like Google

      Put all the content in one location

      Load ads real time into the content based off location and view profiles.

      Profit

      Free to air TV dies

      Pay TV dies

      Pirates die

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The amendment - LOCKS IN VPNs as LEGAL

    From the amendment you linked to:

    39. The primary purpose test would also prevent an injunction to block an online location operated overseas that provides legitimate copyright material to individuals within another geographic location, but are not licensed to distribute that copyright material in Australia. For example, the United States iTunes store does not operate with the primary purpose of infringing copyright or facilitating the infringement of copyright and therefore access to this online location WOULD NOT be disabled under an injunction.

    Did you read it?

  10. chugs

    Lol

    Blocking VPNS, foreign owned VPN's or otherwise would require blocking all ports and IP addresses outside of Australia.

    Every internet user would be required to register their usage type. Users requiring a VPN connection would be required to submit to vetting along the lines of firearm registration.

    Every ISP's BGP routers would direct all traffic to the Great Australian Yobibyte firewall. This system would identify every single packet, understand its destination and source, comparing it back to the Registered Users Database before allowing the connection to be made. The Registered Users Database (RUD) would also contain a record of any copyrighted material you may have purchased.

    Even then all ports would be locked down. All protocols except for HTTP and email would be banned (unless you had a licence to use it). Bloggers would be registered and all pseudonyms would be banned. All social media services would require users to register with their real names and details. Websites would require a licence to operate. Any media created would automatically be assigned a publishers who would register you with the RUD. They would receive as a result of their vital services 90% of any income generated from the material. The artist would technically not own their material. That would be deposited in a trust that the government would allow merchant banks to sell as packages (fractional or otherwise) to the world. Funds generated would be used to compensate publishers, although a small amount would be held in trust as a super fund for artists.

    This would cover anything that could be given a copyright, software, fiction, films, games - everything.

    Underpinning this would be a new Law Enforcement Agency - the Copyright Unilateral National Taskforce Section who would hunt down anyone who would dare to use copyrighted material without compensating the publisher.

    All playing devices, (obviously registered) would be required to ping the Great Australian Yobibyte firewall to check if the user was allowed to use the copyrighted material.

    Any one found breaching this regime would find the agency automatically confiscating any sort of device used in the infringement activity - even if the tribunal later found you innocent. Infringer's properly would be sold in public auctions and the funds used to compensate publishers (think of all the starving executives, distributors, marketing and localisation folk!). Any funds left over (usually a fraction) would be distributed amongst the artists.

    Infringes found guilty would be initially levied heavy fines whilst second time offenders would automatically be sentenced to custodial sentences.

    The publishers and agency with so much power and clout would eventually be able to build super computer system that would be able to determine future copyright crimes before they even happened.

    It would be at about this point that the agencies would be able to perhaps stop about 40% of all copyright infringement.

    1. Dagg
      Thumb Up

      >Copyright Unilateral National Taskforce Section

      Major thumbs up for this!

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