Posted on Sep 18, 2014 by Rick Falkvinge

With The Copyright Industry Disliking VPNs In Public, You Know They’re Doing Good

A lot of news popped up about VPNs this week, all of them concerning how the copyright industry doesn’t like them. That’s when you know VPNs are serving a good purpose in society.

In the words of Galadriel, the world has changed. It used to be that the copyright industry could set different rules, different prices, different distributions for every country. They still pretend this is how the world works.

It’s not that pirates mind paying for good services – every pirate knows that, it’s just the copyright industry who don’t. I’m paying subscriber number #110 (one hundred and ten) to Pandora (the music player), for example, out of today’s over 150 million. See there? Pirates are early adopters, too, when it comes to services that provide value.

It’s no wonder that the copyright industry has tried every trick in the book to shut down Pandora, since it doesn’t play by their rules. For example, from Sweden, I wasn’t allowed to access Pandora for a while. Then, the Internet community got fed up with all the silliness and pretending that country borders exist on the net, and developed a number of solutions to that.

VPNs are one such solution.

For Pandora, I’m using a plugin to Chrome called “Hola Better Internet”. When I go to Pandora Internet Radio, the “Get lost” page flickers briefly since I’m located in Europe. Then, Hola kicks in, and all of a sudden the Hola plugin tells me I’m now egressing somewhere in the United States for the purposes of accessing Pandora, and then Pandora loads fine. It all happens in a fraction of a second. It’s not even hard. (If I like, I could egress in any other country, too.)

It’s no wonder the copyright industry is trying to crack down on this obvious technology. (Just like they cracked down on the self-playing piano, the gramophone, the loudspeaker, et cetera.) In the latest row, we can read on TorrentFreak that the copyright industry is pressuring Netflix to ban all users (paying users!) that are arriving at Netflix through a VPN.

Apparently, Netflix’ paying subscribers in Australia are so disappointed with the selection there, that they choose to egress in the United States and use Netflix from there instead.

Let’s take that again: In Australia, Netflix’ selection is so poor, that its paying users, keyword being paying, are choosing to use the service they pay for in another country instead.

In any market principle, this is not just okay, this is expected and completely normal. But it disrupts the copyright industry’s fantasies of being able to corner, segment, and control the market – in segments that don’t exist any longer. It’s obviously not in Netflix’ interest to lock their customers out from a better offering, so it remains to be seen what the copyright industry is yapping about here. (Also, it should be noted that the Hulu service is already mistreating its customers in this way.)

The next step is predictable from the SOPA debate – it’s pressuring payment providers to refuse service to VPN services, in a blatant display of the cartelization of the few payment providers. (There’s a double reason to only use a VPN that accepts bitcoin, right there: try shutting off bitcoin payments.)

It’s also interesting to see how effective VPNs are at protecting end-users who manufacture unlicensed copies of knowledge and culture from the monopolized copyright industry – apparently, the people behind Expendables 3 are on a suing spree, but hitting a no-log VPN on an end-address is literally a dead end – there’s nowhere to go from there. (Which is another reason to only use VPN services that a) create no logs, b) don’t demand personal information in the first place – like allowing payment with bitcoin.)

The copyright industry is starting to look displeased at VPN services, which is a technical measure that can guarantee civil liberties. That’s a sign they’re fulfilling an important function in society.

Privacy remains your own responsibility.

About Rick Falkvinge

Rick is Head of Privacy at Private Internet Access. He is also the founder of the first Pirate Party and is a political evangelist, traveling around Europe and the world to talk and write about ideas of a sensible information policy. Additionally, he has a tech entrepreneur background and loves good whisky and fast motorcycles.


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