The Productivity Commission says Australians should be able to watch the US version of Netflix

The Netflix series Outlander. Image: Starz

Ever since the dawn of video on the internet, Australians wanting to watch overseas content have been greeted by an all too familiar message: “This video is not available in your region.”

Likewise, the services we do have in Australia, such as Netflix, are often watered-down versions, and CEO’s wonder why subscriber numbers aren’t growing like they’d hope.

At launch, Netflix’s US library was a massive six times the size of Australia’s, boasting over 7200 titles, while the Aussie version featured 1120.

Even today, that title gap isn’t all that much better, and has only really improved because Netflix in the US has skimmed some unwatched titles. As of February 2016, Netflix Australia had just over 2000 titles, while in the US it featured a little under 5800. Still, that’s a difference of almost 4000.

That is a lot of television.

But now, the Productivity Commission says we shouldn’t be blocked from viewing content overseas, and it should be made clear that it’s not illegal to circumvent those geoblocking arrangements.

This is what they said in their recommendation:

“The Australian Government should implement the recommendation made in the House of Representatives Committee report At What Cost? IT pricing and the Australia tax to amend the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) to make clear that it is not an infringement for consumers to circumvent geoblocking technology.

The Australian Government should seek to avoid any international agreements that would prevent or ban consumers from circumventing geoblocking technology.”

The productivity commission also said that they believe Australians pay more for digital products due to geoblocking and local rights compared to overseas counterparts. They also said we often receive a lesser or later service to boot.

Take “Game of Thrones” for example, you would have to pay $30 a month through Foxtel Play to watch it in Australia. In the US, you can subscribe to HBO Now for $US15 a month to have complete access.

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