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I have seen VPN companies and their sponsees openly advertise the fact that VPNs can be used to change the apparent country you are connected from, and pay lower rates for subscriptions and services, e.g., on video streaming websites.

I am aware of Is it legal to watch or steam region-restricted shows or movies?, but this is a different questions since I am asking about using the VPN to save money.


Thoughts

Such VPN use is probably in violation of the terms of use of such services, but is it also illegal? I think it could be illegal since it sounds like theft of services, because they are not paying the right amount.

Also, it sounds similar to malicious hacking. What is the difference between a hacker who finds a way to manipulate a website to pay less money by making it seem as if they are in a different country, and someone who uses a VPN to do the same thing?

On the other hand, it seems weird that VPN companies advertise this openly and do not seem to have faced any action from Netflix, YouTube or other impacted services.

Example

In this YouTube ad (starts at 2:26 in the video), a NordVPN sponsee informs a Western audience that they can get cheaper subscription prices by setting their VPN location to certain countries. Screenshot below.

GradeAUnderA screenshot

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  • You might want to provide links to advertisements. Apr 21 at 13:29
  • 1
    @Yay Okay, I added an example.
    – hb20007
    Apr 21 at 14:07
  • 1
    Relevant — Steam, a popular video game store, is trying to crack down on this: yahoo.com/lifestyle/…
    – hb20007
    Jun 25 at 8:42
  • @hb20007 Although, I'm unsure how they could reasonably figure it out, if you were to go and tell them you're doing this, I'm pretty sure they had grounds to sue. In theory, based on facts, it could probably even reached criminal culpability, too.
    – kisspuska
    Jun 25 at 22:25
  • Does that work technically though? Service providers often require not only (or even just not) the IP address but the payment method to belong to the country you claim to be from. E.g. they check the issuing bank of your credit card.
    – Greendrake
    Jun 25 at 23:23
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I know the OP is asking about America, but its also worth knowing about other countries.

This is legal if both subscriber and subscription are within the EU. There was also a court case about this. In another case in 2014 the pub lost, but that seems to have been because the decoder was only licensed for domestic use.

These cases were for satellite decoders rather than Internet streaming, but the legal issues would be the same.

Both these cases involved British pubs, so obviously this law doesn't apply to them since Brexit.

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  • Your first link doesn't seem to indicate that this is legal within the EU. It just says that EU travelers will be able to watch content from their country of origin while traveling in other EU countries. This article is about access to content and not about reduced prices, and also doesn't mention using a VPN while still being located in your country of origin. The second link is more relevant, but I still feel that the issue is slightly different, since the EU court based their decision on Article 56 TFEU (freedom to provide services).
    – hb20007
    Apr 21 at 17:49
  • 1
    To explain what I mean, it seems that the EU court reasoned that a Greek TV decoder company was allowed to sell their decoders to British customers under the freedom to provide services article, since the UK was part of the EU at that time. So, this means that a VPN company located in EU country A would be able to provide its service to a customer in EU country B. It doesn't seem to be related to the NordVPN feature of being able to change your IP address on demand.
    – hb20007
    Apr 21 at 17:57

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