Netflix Cracks Down on Users Who Don't Stay Within Their Borders

PHOTO: The logo of video streaming company Netflix is seen on a laptop screen in Berlin, Sept. 14, 2014.Bernd Von Jutrczenka/dpa/AP Images
The logo of video streaming company Netflix is seen on a laptop screen in Berlin, Sept. 14, 2014.

The folks at Netflix dream of a world where every customer has access to any movie or television show they want to watch. For now, the streaming network said it will crack down on users who attempt to access content available on another country's Netflix site.

The reason: it all comes down to licensing agreements Netflix has in a specific area for each movie or television series. Last week, Netflix expanded its reach to 190 countries, including India, Indonesia, Russia, South Korea and Saudi Arabia. By expanding its global footprint this week, Netflix now offers its content in nearly every country on Earth except for China.

While David Fullagar, a vice president at Netflix, said the company looks forward to one day "offering all of our content everywhere," in the interim, it will make sure licensing agreements are being enforced.

"For now, given the historic practice of licensing content by geographic territories, the TV shows and movies we offer differ, to varying degrees, by territory," he said in a blog post Thursday. "In the meantime, we will continue to respect and enforce content licensing by geographic location."

Several popular ways for users to enjoy a television show or movie not available in their country include using virtual private networks and "unblockers" to mask their location.

"To address this, we employ the same or similar measures other firms do," Fullagar wrote. "This technology continues to evolve and we are evolving with it. That means in coming weeks, those using proxies and unblockers will only be able to access the service in the country where they currently are. We are confident this change won’t impact members not using proxies."

It's been a massive start to 2016 for Netflix -- which ended 2015 with a presence in 60 countries. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings called the company's expansion "the birth of a global TV network" during his keynote address at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week.

Netflix subscribers enjoyed 42.5 billion hours of programming last year -- with a sharp spike of 50 percent year-over-year in the fourth quarter, Hastings said. That translates to subscribers watching an average of 13 hours of programming per week.