If anything can go wrong, it will.

LDR: The Struggle Is Real

… and Netflix is making that struggle just a little more difficult.

Alex and I try to find as many things that we can do together in the time we get to share. We play games (World of Warcraft, Heroes of the Storm, Mordheim: City of the Damned to name a few), we watch films and shows together.  Or at least, we have been.  And maybe, just maybe we’ve been circumventing some rules in order to do that.

There exist easy to use extensions and add-ons that will “trick” sites into thinking that you’re browsing from a location you’re not actually in.  So, I, for example, could use that to make it appear I’m browsing from the UK.  Or Alex could make it appear he was browsing from the US.  This has always allowed us to synchronise films and shows that we both enjoy and given us something to do together.

As of recently, though, Netflix has announced that they are cracking down on the types of add-ons and extensions that make appearing to be browsing from somewhere else simple.

As I mentioned already, Alex and I have been circumventing some rules, and I recognise that we don’t get to be righteously indignant about the forthcoming changes. It does make me a bit sad, though, that in a world where we could be so much more connected, where we could watch films and shows with loved ones far away it all boils down to greed and licensing fees.

It’s not limited to Netflix, either.  We used to watch old episodes of Ridiculousness together, also – they weren’t even the most current ones – but now MTV requires that you log in with your cable provider to do this.

Being in a long distance relationship is so very difficult, and to lose little things that made it a tiny bit more tolerable just sort of stinks.  That’s really all there is to it. It stinks.

I have never been much of a fan of television, though, and I own the films I love best, so I guess Netflix is saving me some money.

3 Responses to LDR: The Struggle Is Real

  • These regional limitations are annoying. I have encountered them in the domain of ebooks. For example, I have an Amazon account and can log on to any of the different national amazon sites. However, if I want to download a free book from Amazon France, the transaction is refused. Why? It’s not as if I am asking them to deliver a physical object across national borders (though I don’t see why that should not be allowed, either). It;s just a download. Similarly, I tried to download an ebook from one of France’s biggest online bookshops. Same story: the transaction was refused because I was in the “wrong” country.

    Yet software vendors don’t seem to have any difficulty with this. They happily download their products internationally.

    A friend told me that he and other British expats living in Spain use a proxy so that they can watch BBC programmes that are otherwise inaccessible from Spain. Perhaps they too will now face the same problem that you are facing.

    The optimists are wrong when they claim everything gets better and better. Some things clearly don’t and may even get worse…

    • Oh, you’ve no idea how the ebook problem irritates me! If I buy a physical copy of a book, I can take it anywhere, and surely I could walk into a book store in France and buy a book; they’re not going to refuse to sell it to me simply because I intend to take it back home when I leave.

      Unfortunately, though, it is not quite so handy to cart home physical copies of books I might want to buy abroad. The nonsense you experienced is only made worse by the fact that you couldn’t download a free book from Amazon France. It’s free, why should they care where you’re reading it from?

      In theory, I understand – your book was licensed as free-to-the-French, apparently, but altogether unavailable otherwise? I grasp that Netflix also pays their licensing fees on a regional basis, also. So, for them to be permitted to show something in several countries, I imagine they would be required to pay higher licensing fees.

      I grasp these concepts all too clearly, but for the life of me I still don’t really understand why the owners of the intellectual property would want to make it more difficult to reach a larger audience.

      And oooh the BBC. Oh, how I shake my little fist at them. I pay a $200/mo cable bill as it stands, which does include my phone and my internet as well, but I simply cannot afford to fork out another $100/mo to upgrade to their package that includes BBC America. Previously shown episodes of Doctor Who (which, I love) are available on BBC iPlayer, but again, only if you are actually in the UK. Guess they don’t want American Doctor Who fans! Or at least not the ones like me.

      I’d pay extra to Netflix for an “international” package – and I’d do that happily, as long as it wasn’t too high a price. But no, you’re right, though the optimists say everything gets better and better, some things really don’t.

      P.S. Alex and I use an add-on for Chrome that allows for easy proxy switching – which is how we’ve always watched things together. It is, in fact, this practice that Netflix says they are “cracking down on”.

      • Proxies are one solution. A friend living in Spain tells me that he and all his expat friends use one in order to watch UK-only broadcasts. The one they use is free but has advertisements. I also saw an article suggesting that it had vulnerabilities that a hacker might exploit to get at users’ computers. Most free proxies are limited in what you can do (e.g. they don’t allow you to log into sites) and slow. The paid-for ones are better but obviously add to your costs.

        It seems mad that in this age of internationalism, consumers are limited to small areas of supply.

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