Jun 03

Is Using Proxy Server Legal?

netflixEarlier this year Netflix announced that it would clear out the usage of proxy servers to access US Netflix content while being outside US. This has given rise to a question whether use of a proxy service is legal. Though it has been declared to be illegal or copyright infringement or violating terms, it has not been described by anyone how it is illegal. The fact is, there is nothing wrong in accessing US Netflix from Canada through a VPN (Virtual Private Network). Here are the opinions of Cameron Hutchison from Edmonton Journal.

First, we will understand what we are discussing. It’s simple – you buy a Netflix subscription over the internet. Your IP address shows that you are in Canada and therefore you get access to Canadian version of Netflix. But soon you come to know from the media and friends that the US version is far better. The reason for this is ownership of copyrights can be upon a country-by-country basis. US Netflix may purchase a license for the US copyrights to a TV show or movie; but the same Canadian copyrights cannot be bought by the Canadian Netflix. Like hundreds of thousands of other users, you get sick of the inferior shows on Canadian Netflix, and in such a condition, the services of a proxy server based in the US come to your help by showing your IP address to be from a US server. And bingo! You can now enjoy US Netflix!

Now, what is illegal in this? Firstly it is interesting to note that it is doubtful whether using a proxy server to access content from outside your country violates your contractual terms with Netflix in the first place. Your agreement contains the following terms:

“You may watch a TV show or movie through the Netflix service mainly within the country in which you have set up your account and only in those geographic sites where we provide our service and have licensed such a TV show or movie. The content available to watch will differ from location to location. Your geographic location will be verified by Netflix with the help of technologies.”

Here there is no mention of legality of using a proxy server. By using a proxy server to access the US content, I am trying to access a geographical location where the service of Netflix is offered and where licenses have been properly bought for the content. How can this be called violation of terms of service? The fact is geographical location is a point of perspective, like several other legal points related to the internet. For the sake of terms of service, is the viewer in Edmonton or in Atlanta where my proxy server seems to be based? The so-called violation of terms of service can also result in an offense under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. But for that offense, Netflix would have terminated your account.

Another point is of copyright infringement. In the US and Canada, watching content of the internet, though it is illegally uploaded, doesn’t in any way violate copyright laws of either of the countries. The reason for this is holders of copyright are entitled to do their work in public, like through the internet, which means that uploaders of infringed content may be breaching the law. However copyright law doesn’t prevent people in any way from viewing streamed content, whether it is legal or not. Moreover, though there are some restrictions on “import” of copyrighted items, these restrictions are not applied to video streams.

So, this is what Cameron Hutchison has explained easily and beautifully not to leave any confusion in viewers’ minds.

The free US Proxy service of usproxy.ca enables you to enjoy US version of Netflix. Their service is perfectly legal and is available only for the residents of Canada. The system is designed so as to be extremely easy to configure and setup to enable any Canadian resident to watch US Netflix. It needs a valid Netflix subscription (Canadian Netflix subscription would work).