WikiLeaks unveils Netflix-Sony LATAM agreement

DetailsJuan Fernandez Gonzalez | 24 April 2015

In order to put an end to continuing disputes with Netflix, especially over content distribution and geofiltering, Sony and the US subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) platform made a confidential agreement to define the rules of their future business in Latin America, according to WikiLeaks.

After several public complaints about Netflix policy regarding licensing and localised subscription control, Sony inked the agreement with the streaming platform in June 2011, and this has been running more or less successfully over the last four years, according to emails published by WikiLeaks.

Following the deal, all content streamed through Netflix should have a content protection system that includes digital rights management, conditional access systems and digital output protection, meaning, for instance, the prohibition of unencrypted streaming and the existence of an official list of allowed devices which supported the required protections.

But Sony's main concern was geofiltering and, moreover, the possibility of Netflix subs from one country registering in other country and thus accessing content that was not actually licensed to the original country.

"The Content Protection System shall take affirmative, reasonable measures to restrict access to Included Programs to within the Territory", says the Sony-Netflix agreement, and the "licensee shall periodically review the geofiltering tactics and perform upgrades to the Content Protection System to maintain 'state of the art' geofiltering capabilities".

Despite having this agreement, the problems between Sony and Netflix have continued, according to the leaked emails. Some Sony executives continued to complain about Netflix's lack of effort to geographically limit content, especially regarding series like Breaking Bad or its recently premiered spin-off Better Call Saul.

Above all, the published information points to the different business views and, often clashing interests between the growing over-the-top (OTT) platforms and the more traditional content distributors.