Why I’m angry with Netflix

I am angry with Netflix, but I seem to have trouble conveying why I am to people who ask. I am not sure if it is because I am not explaining it well, or if the people I am explaining to just don’t get it. I will spell out why I am angry with Netflix in this blog.

The obvious reasons why I am angry with Netflix is that they have risen my prices $1 per DVD. This resulted in me lowing the amount of DVDs. By the way, if you don’t know, that is Netflix’s goal. They are trying to ween their customers off DVD rentals. They want their customers to use their once free Instant service and completely phase DVD rentals. To Netflix, this is a good business move. They won’t have to pay for stamps to mail out DVDs, and they won’t have to pay to maintain their distribution centers. It probably also means they won’t need to keep as many employees. Few employees means more money for fewer people. So, congratulations Netflix for the good business move.

What I have heard other people respond is, “Well, if Netflix doesn’t rent out as much, that means they’ll increase their instant content.” Well, first… that statement is WRONG! And second… well that statement is somewhat true, but not really. The laws for renting out games, DVDs, Blu Rays, etc. are completely different than renting out “digital” content. Netflix DVD selection has been virtually endless. Let’s backtrack to the 90s. I remember when you could go to a “ma and pa” video store and rent “5 tapes, 5 days, $5”. Do you think “ma and pa” had to ask permission to rent out those tapes? I will admit I don’t know all the ends and outs of this, but I don’t think “ma and pa” had to get special permission from movie makers to rent those out. Conversely, every single thing on the instant listing, Netflix had to get special permission to put that up there. If they can’t get that permission, Netflix can’t serve it. Translation: Netflix will NEVER have as large an instant listing as their DVD listing has been. Once upon a time, no matter how weird it was, you could find it on Netflix. As Netflix phases out their DVD selection, you won’t be able to say this.

The other problem, which you may or may not consider a problem, is that Netflix phasing out DVDs only further including Microsoft’s power and control. Netflix instant video is dependent on Microsoft’s DRM, software that takes control of your computer and gives your computer the ability to tell you what you may or may not do. Such software is harmful to your rights. You can learn more by visiting DefectiveByDesign.org. Furthermore, since Microsoft DRM is not an open standard or an open specification, support for devices and operating systems is 100% at the mercy of Microsoft. Microsoft has complete control over what devices may and may not have DRM, and Microsoft decides how much you (or how much of your bill Netflix pays to Microsoft, etc) pays for this service. The result is that YOU are paying Microsoft to assert control over YOUR computer. If you have a brain, your response should be, “Wait, that doesn’t make sense.” By the way, no Linux distribution is capable of Netflix instant. Not because Linux is not capable, but because, as I said before, Microsoft decides who gets DRM and who does not. On most of my computers, Netflix instant simply is not an option.

So you may say to yourself, “Well, Netflix is cheep, and I can accept the limited instant content. I mean, I can just use Netflix in combination with Hulu. I’m saying bye bye to my cable bill.” Hey, more power to you! I don’t want a cable bill either! However, if you think Netflix instant is the answer, you are very short sighted, and you have no idea what the consequences are.

One of the leading philosophies of the Internet has been something called Net Neutrality. It is a doctrine that, among other things, guarantees that whatever you do, be it bad or good, will not be restricted by your Internet Service Provider. To your ISP, data should be data, and regardless of what that data is or how much data it is, the ISP is to route it to you. At one time, and still so with many cellular Internet providers and WildBlue Internet, there were restrictions on how much you could use. You might have a cap or increased prices if you used to much. For the most part, this is no longer the case with broadband Internet providers. You pay your bill, you have Internet. Well, consider that the cable TV bill you aren’t paying is often also money that you aren’t pay the same company that provides you Internet. Do you honestly think you can take away their piece of the pie? Do you honestly think they don’t still have you by the balls? As Netflix and other companies continue to offer more online, you can expect lobbyists from cable providers and content providers to reach more and more victories in courts. Net Neutrality as a doctrine WILL die. You WILL be charged different rates based on what you do on your Internet connection. Privacy on the Internet will be gone. Unlimited Internet plans will be gone. You can expect your already high cable Internet bill to increase. In the end, you will be paying the same amount or more and you will have less content than you did. You can also expect to have fewer rights as a computer user.

By the way, less content means fewer people will be honest. Expect torrent usage to increase. Then again, restricting Internet usage may kill torrents as well.

I will be proven right. Still don’t understand why I am angry with Netflix?

By the way, I am signature #2724 on the petition to have a Linux Netflix client.