One question that comes to us and other people writing about VPN services frequently, is whether or not it is okay to write about what we do write about. Is it legal to use a VPN to unblock services?
The question is for sure valid, and sometimes we might ask ourselves the same question. I don’t think there is a 100% answer to the given question. Is it ethical to use a VPN to bypass a geo-block? In a way, the answer has got to be yes, and in another way, probably no.
Hulu in Europe?
Let us say that you want to watch Hulu in the United States, but you reside in England. What will happen then? You cannot stream Hulu, because you are outside the United States. To unblock the service, you will need to use a VPN or a SmartDNS service to get an American IP address, which again will make you able to stream Hulu. But, let us not forget, you will also need to pay for your Hulu subscription. So, Hulu get the money they deserve, and you get to watch what you want to.
If you do not watch it on Hulu, you are most likely to download it from a Torrent site or something else instead…
Unblocking other Netflix regions
Netflix has legal agreements with the companies producing TV series and movies. In one country they have an agreement that let them broadcast a movie, while the other country has not come to an agreement when it comes to that movie. For such reasons, the catalog of content on Netflix is very different from nation to nation. But, is it legal to use a VPN to unblock other Netflix regions? It is for sure a valid question, and I believe the answer is vaguely yes!
The problem is… a VPN isn’t only a tool you use to unblock services. You use a VPN to stay safe online! You use a VPN to encrypt your online movements. Imagine sitting in a Starbucks in New York using an open and unencrypted WiFi network. You want to relax, but you are not willing to risk someone hacking your computer and stealing your important information. For that reason, you want to use a VPN. But, when you try to watch Netflix in that Starbucks restaurant, you get a proxy- and unblocker message because your VPN cannot be used while you stream Netflix. Is that fair? It is no wonder why people look for VPN services that will help you get access to Netflix and at the same time keep you safe online.
So, a VPN doesn’t necessarily have the goal of unblocking other Netflix regions, it wants to keep you safe online. Now, this can be used to get access to other Netflix regions, but it doesn’t have to be the original intention of the user. But, if you first have a VPN that works and will let you stay safe online and get access to Canadian Netflix at the same time, why not?
Unblocking a TV channel that you want to watch!
What if you want to stream BBC in England while visiting France? Maybe you are eager to watch a brand new episode of Cuckoo, or maybe you just want to watch the live stream on a BBC channel to see some content you are interested in watching. Is it legal to use a VPN to unblock BBC? Is it okay to do so?
The question is yet another time valid! I believe that the TV networks don’t really care about whether or not you watch their content outside England. They need to show that they make steps to block users abroad, and that is why they do block different VPN providers. But, if they were really serious about it, they wouldn’t have a hard time actually blocking all the VPN providers on the market and make it almost impossible to unblock TV channels like BBC, ITV, ZDF and similar channels worldwide. After all, they only need to spend a couple of hours looking through the Google search results and YouTube videos to see which solutions people recommend for unblocking the different streaming services and TV channels, and with some tech-skills, they would be able to block them just at once. But, for some reason they don’t? Why not? Maybe they don’t really care?
These channels are glad to have online viewers, and the viewers in France watch commercials just like the users in England do.
And if the TV channels themselves do not really care about these regulations and about VPN users, why should we care?
In other words – what’s up with unblocking streaming services with VPN?
I believe that it is perfectly okay to use a VPN to unblock streaming services. You might call it a lucky coincidence that you are able to unblock streaming services while “simply staying safe online”, or you might call it a tool for bypassing such geo-blocks. No matter what, as long as the TV networks and streaming services don’t take this seriously, why should we?