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Is It Legal to Use VPNs for Netflix?

— April 30, 2021

Though Netflix stated that it can ban user’s accounts if they are found using a VPN service, so far it hasn’t taken any action. There is not a single case reported where Netflix banned a user’s account for using a proxy.

There are various reasons for using a VPN service, but the most common one is to stream content without the restriction of your geographical location. Whether you want to stream a show on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, HBO Max, or any other streaming sites – you will have to face the barrier of geo-restriction.

Various VPN services are claiming to be the best VPN for Netflix but first, you need to know if using a VPN legal or not. Today, we are going to get into all the technicalities and grey areas proving that using a VPN will not land you in court.

Even though the primary purpose of a VPN is to protect the identity, data, and privacy of the users – most people think about streaming banned content. VPNs can help the user become difficult to trace so that his/her data is protected.

Why Does Netflix Block Content?

Like all other streaming sites, Netflix has to follow the licensing agreement with other productions. As it does not have the rights to the content. Some licensing agreements allow Netflix to stream content in a specific location as the show is already being streamed in different regions by other streaming services.

Copyright laws are specific to a country. As Netflix claims to be a global streaming service – it has to follow the copyright law of every country. Additionally, Netflix is a trusted name and it cannot tarnish its image by breaching copyright law.

These are the reasons Netflix blocks content so users will only be able to access the local library. The content choices are based on the current location of the user and it will change if the user moves to or travels to a different country.

Rather than implementing the psychological concept, data science principles, and machine learning – the availability of a uniform content selection to every user can be the most effective approach to grab more users.

Torrenting or VPN?

There is a difference between torrenting copyrighted material and accessing the global library of streaming services. Torrenting means that the file was downloaded on the system and then it is retrieved by others with or without paying for the access.

Using a VPN service is remarkably different. You have paid the subscription fee but streaming services provide options based on the user’s location so there are chances that you won’t be able to enjoy your favorite show.

For instance, “The Lords of the Rings” is available on Australian Netflix so what to do if you are not an Aussie? The solution is simple: connect to the Australian server of the VPN – as your virtual location and IP address changes – you will be able to access the Australian Netflix library.

Is it illegal to watch Netflix with a VPN?

Using a VPN is illegal in some countries, including China and Iran. As the service is illegal, what you do will also be illegal. In the majority of the countries – using a VPN service is not illegal so you can enjoy foreign Netflix libraries without thinking about lawsuits.

There are no laws that outright prohibit VPN service making it a safe choice if you wondering about getting your hands on foreign Netflix libraries.

Is it against Netflix’s terms & conditions to use a VPN?

Yes, using a VPN service to access a foreign Netflix library is against the terms & conditions specified by Netflix. Here is what Netflix has to say about using a VPN service.

“Do you use a VPN or proxy for other reasons, such as for work or for privacy? Because there is no reliable way for us to determine if a VPN or proxy is being used for legitimate purposes, any VPN or proxy use will prevent you from streaming Netflix. Please disable any VPN or proxy and try Netflix again.”*

What happens if you get caught?

Though Netflix stated that it can ban user’s accounts if they are found using a VPN service, so far it hasn’t taken any action. There is not a single case reported where Netflix banned a user’s account for using a proxy.

Netflix error message; image courtesy of author.
Netflix error message; image courtesy of author.

All Netflix does is make it hard for the users to enjoy the show they are searching for. You will get a streaming warning asking you to disconnect from the proxy server. Switch to a different server and this issue will be resolved.

Bottom Line

The legality of using a VPN to unblock foreign Netflix libraries depends on the law of the land. If you are living in China or Iran – VPN services are illegal. If you are living somewhere else, it is completely normal and legal to use VPN services.

As the terms and conditions of Netflix focus on dissuading the use of VPN, there are chances that you will get a proxy error while searching for a specific title. All you to do is disconnect from the current server and connect to a different one to enjoy unlimited Netflix content.

With all the descriptions about the technicalities, you can rest assured that no one will come knocking on your door to arrest you for watching foreign Netflix content. All you need to do now is make a list of the movies you want to dive into and enjoy!

*Editor’s note: For those who may be wondering, there’s a fine line between legal  and ethical here. No, it’s technically not illegal to use a VPN to stream Netflix, but, since users agree to not do so when they sign up, it could be construed as unethical. No judgment here, friendly readers! We just like to point out some of these finer points sometimes.

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