Do you have a Roku with which you watch Netflix? Do you watch Netflix on a Mac? If so, you are using either the Linux operating system or a closely related “*Nix” operating system. (Mac’s run on a form of OS that is the same basic system as Linux*)
However, if you run Linux on a regular computer, you can’t watch Netflix videos, as you can with Windows or a Mac. Why? My understanding is that the the people who own and operate Netflix, bless their pointy heads, think that if they released a Linux version of Netflix, Linux “hackers” would break through the DRM protection schemes and everyone would be able to watch Netflix for free.
As Shawn Powers has pointed out a number of times, they’ve got that backwards. In reality, if Netflix continues to diss the Linux Community, there is no telling what will happen. Eventually, Linux “hackers” will figure out how to show Netflix on their own computers. When that happens, this will mean that Linux-using Netflix subscribers will be able to watch what they are paying for on their own desktop and laptop computers like Windows users can. But it might also mean that Linux users will be able to easily install a Netflix Watcher that may not bother with little details like whether or not the service is paid for. In other words, it might be possible some day for Linux users to type:
sudo apt-get WatchNetflixForFree
and in a few moments have an app installed on their computer that will simply drain Netflix of all it’s DRM’ed bits and bytes. For free. Out of revenge. For being dissed.
I don’t know which of these scenarios is going to happen, but it may be the case that an important step is happening in this direction. (Hat Tip Mike)
There is now a project to raise funds to pay a bounty for a functioning Netflix application for Linux. The rules require that the application be legal. That is good. I hope it is created and I hope it is legal. But, you know as well as I do that movement in the direction of making a legal Linux based Netflix streaming application will result in the development of technology that could be used illegally, to just plain take what is currently owned by Netflix.
And, given the way that computer systems operate, it would be fairly easy, I think, to install the necessary software on any Windows machine to run the “Steal the Netflix Bits and Bytes” app and run it. Minimally, one would simply run a key disk or CD based copy of Linux and watch movies for free on any computer, but it would probably be even easier than that.,
I would personally oppose that and I would never use it. I do not subscribe to the idea that if you can easily steal something (like movies or musi), that stealing that thing is therefore ethical, perhaps even morally required. Napster was a low point in the history of personal computer technology, in my opinion. But I’m just one person. The “WatchNetflixForNothin” app is probably possible, and a combination of Netflix misreading the Linux Community and the simple fact that this is both insulting and potentially “fixable” may result in free movies for all who care to type that line I cite above, or something like it being a reality.
I assume Netflix will soon come to understand the error of its corporate ways, and produce a Linux Netflix Application.
In the meantime, you have the option of applying the pressure. Check it out: Netflix on Linux Contest.
*Please do not bother impressing us with your detailed knowledge of how Linux and the system the Mac runs on top of are different. They are more similar than any two randomly chosen (repeated sampling) operating systems running computer-run devices, and are widely considered to be in the same family of operating systems.