After Blocking VPNs, Netflix Is Now Targeting Piracy Websites
By Paul Liu
Thursday, October 13th, 2016
After successfully targeting VPN and unblocker services which allowed its subscribers to stream content at locations where it was not officially available, Netflix has upped the ante against piracy and file sharing websites. In the last few weeks the company has sent thousands of DMCA requests to Google as well as other websites that were facilitating piracy of its original shows and movies. The move along with the VPN ban is expected to make Netflix’s shows and movies harder to find or stream at locations where they are not officially made available by the company.
After Netflix started blocking VPN services in January, there was a noticeable uptick in the piracy of its shows on the internet. However, it turns out that the company was well prepared for this piracy surge since it started issuing DMCA requests almost at the same time. In association with its anti-piracy partner Vobile, Netflix sent 3000 DMCA requests to Google in the month of December alone. The following months were even busier as the company has marked 71,861 links for removal in the first few months of the current year. As it can be expected, most of the DMCA requests issued by the company are related to its original shows and movies like House of Cards, Sense8, Narcos, The Ridiculous 6 and A Very Murray Christmas.
While the number of DMCA requests sent by Netflix are still small (especially when compared with Hollywood studios), they seem to be having the desired effect. Google has already complied with the company’s takedown requests and scrubbed most of the links from its search results. Apart from targeting torrent sites which provide links to its shows, Netflix is also issuing DMCA requests against file-hosting and streaming websites. A quick look at the takedown requests issued by the company reveal that the sites uploaded.net, filefactory.com and vodlocker.com account for a large number of DMCA requests.
As well as sending DMCA requests to Google and other search engines, Netflix is also contacting piracy site owners and requesting them to remove its shows from their sites. The company hopes that the takedown requests would make it harder for the pirates to find its shows and encourage them to become a paying customer. However, this is unlikely to happen since most of the company’s original shows are available only at certain locations while the people pirating them are from all parts of the world. A customer is unlikely to pay for a service through which he/she cannot watch his/her favorite shows due to geographical restrictions.
Netflix’s current stance towards piracy is a marked departure from the past. The company’s CEO Reed Hastings had famously quoted at one time that piracy does happen online but he was not too worried about it. Netflix had also admitted to studying torrenting download patterns for its shows in different countries and even making licensing decisions based on that data. So along with the VPN ban, the targeting of piracy sites indicates that Netflix is heading in a different direction and wants to enforce regional licensing restrictions strictly from now on.