Movie Studios Turning The Screw On Netflix VPN Loophole

The days of accessing Netflix from outside it’s territories by using a VPN (Virtual Prive Network), may be coming to a close. It’s an open secret that viewers around the world are using a service such as Hola or any number of other VPN’s both free and paid to watch more and better content from Netflix US.

netflix-piracyBut after getting roundly chastised by the boss of Australian Quickflix, Netflix are now said to be getting heat from even more content right holders. The news comes from CNET Australia, who report that movie studios including Warner Bros, and Universal are pressuring Netflix to stop Aussie users accessing the US Netflix streaming service.

Even though Netflix has not yet launched in Australia, it is estimated that nearly quarter of a million Aussies are streaming Netflix using a method that tricks Netflix into believing they are in the USA.

VPN services are legitimately used though by subscribers that do travel abroad, so a wholesale ban would be unpopular. And like piracy, stopping determined users from performing this kind of trickery would be impossible anyway.

Of course Netflix could just launch everywhere and stop using prehistoric content licensing practices for different parts of the world and everyone would be happy.

Judd Apatow Will Love Two Seasons On Netflix

The latest new addition to Netflix‘s ‘upcoming original series’ will be from the high-profile mind of movie director (and part-time The Simpsons writer) Judd Apatow, who has agreed to have his new concept airing exclusively on the streaming platform.

judd_apatowIn an unprecedented ‘two-season, straight-to-series deal’, Apatow’s new concept of Love, a ‘relationship comedy’ featuring Paul Rust and Gillian Jacobs, will debut in 2016 with a 10-episode run batch, and followed in 2017 with a 12-episode second season.

It is noted that Love will have production coming from Apatow Productions and Legendary Television, whilst executive production staff members will include Apatow, Brent Forrester, and co-creators/writers Rust, and Lesley Arfin (Brooklyn Nine-Nine).

Apatow said of the move to take on the format by Netflix: “I am so excited to get to work with Paul and Lesley on this project. Netflix has been supportive in ways I couldn’t create in my wildest fever dreams.”

Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s ‘chief content officer’, summarised: “Judd Apatow has a unique comedic voice that manages to be delightful, insightful, and shockingly frank – often at the same time. Together with Paul and Lesley, he’s bringing a whole new level of agony and ecstasy to this modern day comedy of manners.”

Having sent out a strong commitment with an order of 22 episodes (which… actually doesn’t balance out too well when compared with the length of one season on most network TV shows), will Love leave a strong impression and reward the faith of two guaranteed seasons?

Derek Due To Return For Final Special

Ricky Gervais creation Derek, of Channel 4 and Netflix fame, has announced that his series is due for a return beyond its most recent second season… for the length of one ‘special’ episode.

derek_netflix_knittedAn extension that would take the show’s final episode count up to a grand total of 14 across two seasons, Gervais has claimed he felt the time was right to end the show as with one closing installment.

Gervais had previously claimed to be toying with the ideas of either a special or a third season for the format, but has now apparently made his decision via his blog.

In an update mainly regarding upcoming The Office‘s David Brent-focused spin-off film Life on the Road, Gervais said of the future of Derek: “I did toy with a third series, particularly after the Emmy nod, but I decided to stick to my usual formula of two series and a special.”

The ‘usual formula’ comment is a reference to how both of his leading 2000’s shows The Office and Extras wound down, and to an extent reality travel series An Idiot Abroad (which had a short-length ‘third season’), and appears to be happening again with the Derek project, but what kind of legacy has the series warranted in its relatively short tenure? There is a historic bar for shows that last about this long:

London Live Kept In Line By Ofcom

A request to Ofcom regarding a change in network schedule has been denied for start-up channel London Live, with the city-specific station left stuck with their original ‘local content commitments’.

london_live_bannerAfter starting in March 2014, the localised EPG-filler for the British capital city had attempted to move away from being tied to ‘local content’ production requirements outlined when winning the EPG slot bid, looking to enable less specific shows to take their place in the schedule during ‘peak times’.

But following a ‘public consultation period’ after request submission, media regulators Ofcom have ruled that such proposals would “substantially alter” the ‘character’ of the London Live project, and have therefore rejected the idea.

An official report from the organisation stated of the London Evening Standard-owned network‘s plans and the reasons they were not to be going forward: “Ofcom decided that London Live’s application to change its programming would have substantially altered the character of the channel – making it much less local. The requested changes to the licence were not approved, as they didn’t meet three of the four statutory criteria needed for Ofcom to give its consent.”

London Live’s chief operating officer (COO) Tim Kirkman responded to the report with disappointment, stating: “I am disappointed by this outcome as I believe the changes would have allowed us to produce an even better product for Londoners. We had no plans to reduce the volume of fresh local content or news and current affairs, just the times we broadcast it. Not being allowed these changes is not critical, but will continue to challenge us. However, the business is continuing to deliver, with nine consecutive weeks of audience growth, and we are now reaching over 10% of Londoners every week, with last week our second-best week so far – only very marginally behind our launch week.”

Though the ruling may prevent them from truly challenging nation-wide channels in the manner they might want to, will keeping London Live Londonised at prime time be a better move for the channel’s own good in the long run?

Quickflix Bemoans Netflix ‘Free Ride’

Netflix‘s domination around the world, thanks to third-party domain shields such as Hola, stretches quite well beyond their official markets, one of the most notable of which being in Australia, where local streaming platforms have bemoaned the strong presence of Netflix in a local entertainment market that they don’t even contribute to, bemoaning the ‘free ride’ that is being taken by the American company.

quickflixStephen Langsford, the CEO of one of Australia’s leading native streamers by the name of Quickflix, claims that Netflix’s purposeful ignorance of VPN (virtual private network) use by Australians is a detriment to local services due to stealing potential customers and the avoidance of local content licensing fees.

Netflix are noted as blocking non-Netflix markets (or other Netflix markets) from reaching the leading American version of the service, but do not provide any barriers when the natural solution of a proxy server comes into play, and have taken many subscriptions from Australian bank details, with American dollars paid and American content watched in spite of their physical location.

An open letter from Langsford to Netflix claims that they are: “…tacitly encouraging Australian consumers to inadvertently breach the copyright of content owners. We challenge Netflix to play by the rules. Stop turning a blind eye to VPN services acting as a gateway to your service. Be honest and face-up to the issue of unauthorised access to your US service.”

Langsford’s letter, coming in response to statistics released this year (which include payment start-up company Pocketbook estimating that 27% of Australians are using Netflix despite it not having a market presence, and Business Spectator claiming that Australia is second only to Canada in terms of accessing American Netflix services through VPNs).

He added of the lack of fairness involved and how Netflix’s unofficial presence weakens the Australian market as a whole: “Audiences will suffer in the long-run with few choices, less compelling offerings and higher prices.”

Whether viewer actions can be considered as Netflix breaching ‘content licencing laws’ when the internet can do far worse when it comes to unofficial viewing is a point of debate in Australia, but considering Netflix are receiving free money for doing absolutely nothing in an important market it can be assumed that they won’t ever be trying too hard to stop the proxies. And in the event that they do launch ‘legally’ in Australia, they’ll still have subscribers taking the American option, just with added tax, so is the question more of what the likes of Quickflix can do to become more competitive against the currently ‘non-existent’ force?

Avatar Prepare For 3D4K Sequel With High Frame Rate

Since originally premiering in 2009, the world has been waiting on a sequel to Avatar probably more for the filming innovations that could come with it than the story itself, and those fans will be pleased to hear that the franchise could be planning to make a slightly newer emerging technology more mainstream come Avatar 2.

avatar_eyeIt is reported by filmmaker/inventor Douglas Trumbull that his new system of ‘4K 3D at 120 frames per second’ is in discussion stages with Avatar producers, (more specifically, producer Jon Landau, according to The Hollywood Reporter).

It is believed that Avatar‘s creator James Cameron was a fan of Trumbull’s prototype ‘large-format high-frame rate projection system’ (known as ‘Showscan’), and Trumball has taken a more refined version into action with short film UFOTOG, showcasing the abilities of the process now known as MAGI.

Trumball stated of the current situation, which includes a request to demonstrate UFOTOG to Avatar staff: “I know that Cameron admired Showscan and that he is a huge advocate of high frame rates (HFRs). The use of HFRs for Avatar would be very appropriate and very successful. I don’t know if Cameron is interested [in using MAGI for the Avatar sequels]. He’s in seclusion writing the screenplay for Avatar. I am talking to Jon Landau, and we plan to have a screening [of UFOTOG] soon.”

Speaking at the IBC Convention in Amsterdam (Netherlands), he added of MAGI that it is also being pitched to other well-known directors, and stated of its benefits: “It delivers extreme fluidity of motion and amazing clarity with no strobing, no double flickering and a viewing experience that far exceeds conventional movie quality.”

The upcoming remainder of the Avatar quadrilogy, meanwhile, is to be filmed starting 2015 with returning stars Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana, with airdates in the Christmas periods of 2016, 2017, and 2018 for the blockbuster parts 2, 3, and 4. It is a guarantee that they will be in 3D given the first film, but will the format be adding ‘4K’ and ‘120fps’ to its description by that point as well?