The European Commission has returned a positive vote on content portability, supporting the right of EU citizens to access digital content when traveling across borders within the EU.
This move is aimed at reducing content piracy, as it would allow users to access regional online content subscriptions when located outside their member state of residence. This includes video providers such as Netflix, or HBO Go, as well as online TV, music, and game streaming services.
Originally formulated as a part of the Digital Single Market (DSM) strategy to remove barriers to e-commerce within the European Union, the Commission originally adopted a preliminary regulation on cross-border portability in December 2015.
The issue at hand is that services like Netflix offer different content to customers in different regions. The company verifies the current IP address of a subscriber in order to provide access to the content library for that region.
Under the new system, providers must verify the user’s member state of residence instead, and make the home country content available even when a user logs in at an IP address in a different EU country.
The preliminary regulation has been refined and amended to the final version, ratified today. Data protection and privacy safeguards, especially for IP address checks, have been added. Also, the definition of ‘temporary presence’ in a different member state has been tightened, and now refers to a limited time period.
The updated regulation now includes a waiver clause as well, whereby content providers can sidestep residence verification activities of all copyright holders agree.
Andrus Ansip, Vice President in charge of the DSM, said that the agreement will bring concrete benefits to Europeans, and noted that “this is an important step in breaking down barriers in the Digital Single Market.”
The positive vote on content portability is particularly important in light of the new rules governing roaming charges that will take effect next month. As of June 2017, EU citizens traveling to member states will pay domestic prices for mobile internet without roaming fees.
The new rules on content portability must be formally confirmed by the European Council and Parliament, and are expected to take effect in early 2018. Providers and rights holders will be given a nine-month period to prepare for the change.