Bell Says Canadians are ‘Stealing’ U.S. Netflix When Watching via VPN

Bell’s new media president, Mary Ann Turcke, made her first major speech as head of the division today at the Canadian Telecom Summit in Toronto, reports The Star.

She was quick to start things off with a bang, by saying Canadians that access U.S. Netflix via VPN are essentially “stealing just like stealing anything else.”

Turcke touched on how society needs to change how it views the use of VPNs, noting “It takes behavioral change and it is the people — friend to friend, parent to child, coworker to coworker — that set the cultural framework for acceptable and unacceptable behaviour.”

So many people are using VPN solutions to access geo restricted content that “It has to become socially unacceptable to admit that you are VPNing into U.S. Netflix — like throwing garbage out your car window – you just don’t do it.”

Turcke gave the example of her own 15 year old daughter finding out that U.S. Netflix has more content while on a ski vacation in the States. Upon coming back to Canada, she used a VPN to access the American Netflix content again, but “She was told she was stealing.”

Estimates peg one-third of Canadian Netflix customers accessing U.S. Netflix. These restrictions are there for a reason as Turcke explains “we need to personalize the fact that content is produced by real people, and that stealing it affects their livelihoods,” adding “I believe it is on us.”

The Bell media chief also said it’s now socially acceptable to not scold people for stealing content, whether it’s in the form of “how to” articles in newspapers, which detail how Canadians can bypass copyright law. Turcke said “Discoverability does not mean, at least not to me, watching whatever you want for free.”

When former Bell media chief Kevin Crull ‘left’ the company for interfering with CTV News coverage, he was replaced by Turcke.

At the beginning of this year, Netflix clarified their policy on accessing cross border content by saying:

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. There hasn’t been any recent changes to the Netflix VPN policy or terms of use.

Back in February, a Rogers VP called for the Canadian government to shutdown VPNs and enforce copyright. When Canadians use VPN services that cost less than the price of a coffee per month to access cross border content (or $39 for a lifetime subscription in our Deals Store!), that means they aren’t paying for streaming services like Bell’s CraveTV or Rogers and Shaw’s shomi, which requires heavy investments for content deals.

So, are you using a VPN like Unblock-Us to access U.S. Netflix? Don’t steal now…

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Follow me on Twitter, and @iPhoneinCanada, and on Google+.

  • Nigleet

    Title reads a bit funny. Should read “Bell Accuses…” maybe?

  • Nick Cameron Greene

    Yeah, good luck with that. President of a multimedia giant and he doesn’t even understand the internet. I bet he texts from a blackberry and calls people using a lan line.

  • Trenchanting

    In order to solve this issue the problem needs to be looked at from a consumer’s perspective. How can you say you’re stealing while you’re actually paying for a Netflix subscription? The real problem are outdated rights windows and rights territories.

    Studios need to get rid of exclusive rights, so that consumers select providers on their service rather than on their content, or exclusive rights need to be sold on a global scale.

    Paying for a Netflix subscription in Canada and seeing only a subset of what US Netflix subscribers have access to is just frustrating for consumers. Proceeding to wag your finger when Canadians use VPN is not going to solve the problem.

  • Yeah it was updated. And yes you’re right 😉

  • Ty

    Bells just upset that they have shit the bed with every streaming platform they have tried to create, this lady seems borderline idiotic to say its stealing to watch content you pay for, sorry we have the conscious to know what we deserve and thats the content that Bell and other media corps try and hold back.

  • Canucks Canucks

    The problem I see here is customers who paid for the services want the same contents as the customers in the state. But Netflix Canada are restricting contents due to copyrights and contract that it signed with the big studio companies.

    I am all in for copyright and doing things legally but it’s kind of unfair for the people from the North.

  • Corey Beazer

    Alternate cheesy title…
    “New Bell Pres says, Shomi the money, because Canadians Crave(Good)TV”

  • Tanson

    That’s like me bitching about them using India as a customer service depot. I use America to watch Netflix, you use India to deal with your customers.

  • Tim M


  • Tim M

    “that means they aren’t paying for streaming services like Bell’s CraveTV or Rogers and Shaw’s shomi”

    Rogers internet and cable customers get free access to Shomi. Bell customers that subscribe to The Movie Network get free access to CraveTV.

  • CH

    Nah. I am paying for it. Not stealing.

  • If I buy cherry coke from a local corner store because they import it to Canada from the U.S. Am I stealing it because it’s not sold at my local super market?

    As Canadians, for many years we’ve gotten use to getter lesser content compared to the U.S. We didn’t get google music til well after, many U.S. Music video and music services, even Apple has Beats Musix for US only. We Canadians have just learnt how to get as much as our American friends get with our money.

  • #winning

  • DoctorT

    LOL – they wish

  • vr

    The big 3 in Canada have been monopolizing ang gouging us for years and now they cry foul and shame us. Sorry, a little too late for loyalty.

  • Still, not free for everyone.

  • Yes, you’re a thief Tom!

  • bionicmonk

    There is a shrill tone of desperation in her whining. I like that. Anything that hurts Bell can only be good for the Canadian consumer.

  • O.O… Everything I was taught was a lie **cries** lol

  • Zeke

    Netflix Canada sucks. I cancelled it because I got tired of seeing the same shows listed in multiple categories. It was like Netflix was trying to give me the idea that there was a lot to choose from. Not. I cancelled Netflix. I went back to iTunes. Buy the shows I want.

  • Their search and curation could improve, sometimes the good stuff is hidden away.

  • Salinger

    Rather than calling customers criminals and saying their behaviour has to change, it’s long past the time the telecom and media corps need to realize they’re the ones who need to change. They act like they’re still in the days of VHS tapes and vinyl records. Geo-blocking content is an archaic practice not keeping pace with today’s technology and consumers’ demands.

  • Salinger

    I disagree. Netflix Canada is actually pretty decent and has a lot of quality content. And considering the price, there are no better entertainment options around.

    You got tired of seeing the same shows listed in Netflix, but you’re paying 3 – 6 times the price of a whole month of Netflix for one TV season on iTunes that you’ll have to watch over and over and over.

  • roninfellows

    Sad part is the real problem is Canadian monopolies like all the major media oligarchy. I am more than happy to pay a reasonable subsidy to for existing Canadian content so I can also see US content but that’s not possible for the few have taken that privilege of media freedom from me so they can provide just what makes the the most profit

  • Jezzah

    As a proud pirate, bell can sod off.

    I pay for my Netflix and pair it with a top notch Vpn service not just for US Netflix but global Netflix, and if it’s not on Netflix it’s trivial to find what I want elsewhere.

    I gave shomi a honest shot, but truth be told it’s terrible and needs a lot of work.

    I laugh at the notion of banning vpns. Good luck.

  • David Clark

    Using a vpn outside the USA like in Canada is common for everyone and millions of Netflix viewers buying VPN tools for the same purpose. Purevpn and Ipvanish known for streaming Netflix and users buying these tools from vpnranks world known providers platform.

  • Michal

    Always thought DNS services were more common. VPN seems more advanced configuration wise anyway. Maybe I’m wrong 🙂

    Either way, I’d love to see how much US Netflix Bell / Rogers employees watch.

  • erth

    the media companies must not have read that we are in a global economy. when it comes to them using the global economy to keep costs down, it is ok. but when the consumer wants to use the global economy, it is stealing.
    quick fix, open the gates to all media in the world to canada, then we will begin to realize that the stuff we have been given in the past, is very weak. stop scamming the people of canada, please and thank you (Canadians are so polite).

  • andrez1

    If Bell is the one concerned about what individuals are “stealing” from another party (and not Bell), then perhaps Bell should intervene and offer a service to Canadians that competes with the US Netflix. People will pay for it if it’s made available. These aren’t people hacking into Netflix, they are paying the company – and paying more for the VPN – this means they’re obviously willing to pay for stuff.
    Bell instead should go after the companies that limit what we can and cannot pay for and see. They’re the problem, not the people with the money in their wallets waiting to spend it.

  • Marc

    We Canadians always get the short end of the stick. In every market, we pay more for less. I cancelled Netflix even though I did use a VPN. If rather torrent., some call that stealing, I call it sharing. Evolve with the times or fall behind, society is in too much of a rush to give a shit

  • Marc

    I’d rather torrent*

  • Pretty much exactly this. Territorial lockouts are a consumer-hostile business model designed specifically to maximize profits in every market they can access. They do nothing but cause frustration for comsumers, and while that does not grant permission to “steal” from other markets via VPN, it does nothing to address the fact that consumers want content that local providers just aren’t providing. If they want to address the problem, they need to get the content. Otherwise it’s little more than a tacit admission that they aren’t providing good service.

  • erth

    i can see it now, we all take the bait and start buying their service, and all of a sudden, we (bell/rogers) have raised our rates because we can’t make enough doing this. i would rather keep netflix and vpn the usa feed.

  • Tim

    If it’s so illegal and wrong, I hope she turns her daughter in.

  • Trenchanting

    Statistically it will be a third. It’ll be more than just the boss’ daughter, I can tell you that much.

  • Jackie Jones

    Corporate Socialism! Unbelievable. She thinks her company is entitled! Paying for something is not stealing. What a Knob!!!

  • “Stealing”, eh? Is this the same Bell that coined the term “usage-based billing” to refer to their price-fixing-via-regulatory-capture scheme? Please, let’s hear more of what they have to say about stealing.

  • mounties99

    The takeaway from this story should be that Canadians would rather break the law than deal with Bell. Bell and Rogers have to change, not the consumer.

  • Biggy204

    Isnt paying for Netflix entitiling you to use the US Netflix as well (since Netflix switches your account to the US when you are in the US logging into your CND account, like how apple & Sony require you needing other region account to access those content)? If their whiney about it they can always demand Netflix to lock out Canadian accounts from accessing their other region versions. So even if you log from the US for example, it recognizes your account as a Canadian one and gives you the Canadian content instead.

    Then there are people who actually are illigally streaming anything from new movies-TV shows via foriegn websites that offer these “free” services “. Which now outweighs those who use Netflix (and refuse to pay for netflix) and the like. The big two (Rogers/Shaw and Bell) should target that not a company in which people pay for services for.

  • Biggy204

    Opps that Apple /Sony comment was supposed to be in line with demanding Netflix to lock out content if accounts are created in another region. Still too sleepy when editing my comment lol

  • Dicky003

    These are all very good points and to add to them, most consumers have been feeling gouged for decades now. Once prices reach a point where they completely out-weigh what the value of the content is, consumers look to alternatives. We have seen this time and time again. People downloading music for free, downloading movies for free, cracking satellite boxes, cracking android tv boxes, VPN to bypass Netflix…. The list goes on. Bell and all telecommunication companies need to stop looking and what is happening and start to look at the reasons why it is happening. Their customers are pissed. You want people to not ‘steel’ then stop throttling our internet speeds and bandwidth, Stop charging us high prices for channels we don’t want and then charge us more for the channels we do want. Stop charging us for VoIP phone service features that cost you nothing to provide (caller ID, VM, Call waiting etc) and stop charging for long distance and for how many minutes we use. The day a company offers that without those restrictions will be the company that hits it big. Apple showed us that 99c songs work and are affordable and give consumers the freedom of only getting what they want. They didn’t eliminate pirating but they certainly took a huge chunk out of it.

  • Riddlemethis

    Things are changing in this country of ours we call Canada. First we lost US satellite tv, then we got a media tax, we got reduce mobile phone contracts with vastly increased hardware upgrade fees and higher rates for services, and many people received DMCA letters from their ISPs for copyright infringement where it was previously ok to download from file sharing sites. If these large corporations like Bell have their way, they will manipulate the government (with media help), they will get their way.

    I wonder though….if the media didn’t post or mention these ridiculous kinds of statements from these idiots like Turcke, would that impede their hunger for dominance and control of all media and internet?

  • Riddlemethis

    not really…a lot of simpletons will heed Bell’s warning and stop using a VPN altogether….because they were told it’s wrong.

  • Riddlemethis

    her daughter is above the law…mom will encourage her to become a cop, lol

  • Riddlemethis

    just being the devil’s advocate here. but your argument is akin to everyone in canada is speeding so it must be ok?

  • Riddlemethis

    no, netflix canada really, really, really, really sucks. once you compare the US line-up you will see how bad the CDN version really is.

  • Riddlemethis

    you are not supporting coke canada,. you are a traitor. lol

  • Ron

    We have a very small fraction of content compared to the US, yet we pay the same amount. Who is ripping off who here? And it’s not like using a VPN will get you US Netflix for free. You still have the PAY the monthly US Netflix price.

  • CMfly

    We need it to become socially unacceptable to geo restricted content!

  • CMfly

    When ever someone says VPN you have to assume they just mean any way to get around the geo blocks. They just don’t know about the others so they say VPN meaning them all.


    Let’s throw out a slightly different scenario. I go into a particular cell phone manufacturer’s website. I find that manufacturer sells a particular model of cell phone – unlocked for ,say, $200. and they say on their website – Canada $200 is their retail price. So I go to my Canadian cell phone company and ask about the phone. Only one cell provider (not BELL) sold it for $300 (not exaggerating) locked to their network. When I tried to mail order it from the manufacturer website, I was informed they were only allowed to ship it to a US address, even though they have a local Canadian distribution center. Now you tell me who is stealing from whom.

  • Salinger

    I use both regularly so I’m well aware of the differences. My point is this. It’s well under $10 a month and has tons of movies and TV shows to watch. The fact that the US service has more, doesn’t make the Cdn service suck. If you had no clue what was on the US service, I bet you’d say for the few dollars it costs, Netflix Canada really, really, really, really is awesome.

    What else on the market in Canada is a better entertainment value for the money?

  • Salinger

    No one is being ripped off. We pay a very small fee and get to watch a ton of movies and TV shows as much as we want every month. Nothing else in Canada even comes close to the value that Netflix provides. …and technically, with today’s exchange rate, we pay about $2 less per month.

    Yes, of course the US service has a much larger offering, but just because the Canadian service has fewer titles, doesn’t mean it isn’t worth the cost.

    Again I ask, if Netflix Canada is so terrible, what other Canadian service is better?

  • Mike Wort

    “Global economy” only applies to corporations. They can offshore profits, onshore losses, outsource labour and lobby government all the while paying the lowest salaries possible to their employees. Consumers are geo-restricted, cross-border taxed, threatened with legal action and generally despised for not readily handing over what little disposable income they’ve got left. This problem is far greater the Bell, but Bell & Turcke are a fine example of corporate greed.

  • Frikster42

    In the words of Gaben, you know multi-millionaire guy who’s the CEO of a little something called Steam, “Piracy is a service problem, not a moral or legal problem. Provide better service to customers than what piracy can and the problem goes away.” Oh look, pirating computer games is hardly even a popular thing to do anymore. Oh, and look how rich mr. Gaben got out of merely taking a realistic approach to dealing with human behaviour (as opposed to Bell’s moralistic lazy approach)

    Canada’s telecommunications companies are a laughing stock of the first world as far as service is concerned. It’s time for me to wag my moralistic finger right back at Bell. Provide us, the consumers, better service and we’ll gladly make sure you’re swimming in our money. Find a realistic creative solution. And that wasn’t a selfish capatilistic thing to say. It’s a completely moralistic thing to say. Companies that provide poor service, but who have monopolies stifle innovation and effectively bring the entire country’s economy down. Look at the bigger picture, Bell (you too Telus, Rogers) and then get your shit together. This country wasn’t built on incompetence.

  • Frikster42

    I pray for the saviour that is going to come along and modernize these relics (I mean companies). He or she is going to make billions.

  • jazzytime

    mmmmm….”Love it or List it” is a Canadian show that is NOT AVAILABLE ON CANADIAN NETFLIX but IS AVAILABLE ON AMERICAN NETFLIX!! Sooooo, how did that come to be?? mmmm…..when I had cable TV I watched American channels in Canada. I cut cable and found I don’t have access to full episodes on the American network websites. These virtual borders are rediculous. With Netflix, we are paying for a service; we are not illegally downloading anything. I will continue to use my VPN to access cross-border content without any ethical qualm.

  • Guest

    In fact, I was watching US Netflix for so long for a couple of shows I liked that they carry, that one day I went back to Canada and was amazed at some of the great movies there that I couldn’t find on US Netflix. Man of Steel is in Canada but not US, I saw Batman Begins for the first time on Canadian Netflix, none of the Dark Knight series was available on U.S. Netflix. Amazing Spiderman, Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Transformers, Age of Extinction all on Canadian Netflix and not US.More content doesn’t necessarily mean better content that’s for sure.

  • Guest

    The iTunes example is a fantastic one.

  • Guest

    It’s not stealing at all. I pay for Netflix service, and I get Netflix of whatever country I am in when I am there. Accessing my content that I paid for is not stealing, just because I don’t happen to be able to access it just by logging on. It is clearly content I paid for and I am entitled to if they happily serve it up when I go to other places. It doesn’t magically become not mine because I am physically in another location.

  • Guest

    Uh lady, you got it wrong. I am not stealing, and I am not accessing content for free. I paid my Netflix fee, and the content I am offered includes US Netflix and other countries too, as I am traveling. Just because I need to do something different to access the content I paid for when I am in a different location, doesn’t mean I am accessing content I didn’t pay for.

  • Caleb john HOGAN


  • Ozwald Shagpants

    Makes no sense, A film is released in the Theater in The U.S. and the same time in Canada. Blu-ray and DVD is released the same time as well. Tv shows air on Canadian stations pretty much the same time as in the U.S. Heck we get most of their TV on our Cable box or Satellite!
    Netflix has always been idiotic, from snubbing Linux users such as people using Ubuntu the most popular Linux O/S, and having good content in Canada when first launched now many films have been removed.
    Netflix needs to get real and realize what the consumer wants, instead of being Natzi Storm trooper on all other countries except the U.S.

  • kikastra

    I know this is old news, but this coming from someone that steals jobs from Canadians by outsourcing call centre jobs overseas. I don’t feel a single ounce of sympathy for her or her company.

  • Keith Manning

    I’ve used both US and Canadian Netflix. The reason so many people want to use US is because the difference in content is ridiculous. I’m sure there’s some bureaucratic BS behind it but customers don’t give a shit. I was constantly hearing about cool stuff on Netflix only to find it wasnt available in Canada. I got fed up and canceled. I’m a Star Trek fan, most if not all of the series are on US, none are on Canadian. Just another example. Why don’t they try to implement a solution that benefits customers instead of punishing them.

  • ghanderman

    “socially unacceptable” that consumers are finding ways past greedy corporations with crap products and overpricing? lol, if that ever happens then the end days will be upon us all for sure

  • Kastrenzo

    Then update Canadian netflix so that it’s not a steaming pile of trash.

    half of what’s on Canadian version is just foreign language crap,
    I don’t use VPNs anymore because of the headache, but I’ve got no sympathy for Bell or any other company that practices this crap, so everyone else , continue to “steal” away

  • AW

    I wasn’t before but after hearing this I might just do it out of spite. Their response is nothing short of exaggerating and trying to talk down to people.

  • Chuck Hugh Farley

    have you seen netflix canada? ten bucks a month to see ten year old movies – or like you want to watch a trilogy, they might have the second movie in it
    it is an insult to canada for them to pay for such mediocre services