HBO Now to block “VPN pirates”

HBO is cracking down on “VPN pirates” following the launch of its stand-alone video streaming service HBO Now, TorrentFreak reported.

The service launched at the start of April, just ahead of the premier of the new season of Game of Thrones, and is exclusive to iTunes and Apple devices for the first three months.

HBO Now users from Australia, Canada, Germany, and the United Kingdom reported receiving warnings from the company, saying their access would be terminated unless they called HBO in the US.

Fairfax Media’s Sydney Morning Herald reported that subscribers flagged as being outside the United States received the following message:

It has come to our attention that you may have signed up for and viewed video content on the HBO NOW streaming service from outside of the authorized service area (the United States, including D.C. and certain US territories).

We would like to take this opportunity to remind you that the HBO NOW streaming service is only available to residents of the United States, for use within the United States. Any other access is prohibited by our Terms of Use.

HBO’s enforcement of its terms of use is in stark contrast to Netflix, which typically does not block similar use.

The company was asked for comment on the matter, but it did not respond by the time of publication.

Earlier this year, Netflix faced a controversy over changes it made to its terms and conditions regarding the use of its services outside designated territories.

The new terms lets Netflix cut off or restrict subscribers if they circumvent the geographic blocks the company has put in place.

A spokesperson for Netflix said these changes were really only a clarification of its stance on the use of virtual private networks and unblocking services, though.

“Virtually crossing borders to use Netflix is a violation of our terms of use because of content licensing restrictions. We employ industry standard measures to prevent this kind of use. We have not recently made any changes to these measures,” said Netflix.

Netflix recently revealed it will launch in South Africa before the end of 2016. HBO has not announced any plans to offer HBO Now in South Africa, and its newest content currently remains exclusive to DStv.

Although Netflix and HBO have not launched in SA yet, there are already a number of video on demand services available.

These services offer either transactional VOD (movie rentals), or a combination of transactional and subscription VOD.

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HBO Now to block “VPN pirates”