EC looking to end border-limited online subscriptions like Netflix

10 Dec 2015

The European Commission (EC) is beginning the process of breaking down the European Union’s (EU) digital borders to allow you to use your online subscription services regardless of where you are in the region.

Currently, the system in place in the EU and pretty much all countries is that the digital content that you subscribe to, like Netflix or accessible sports packages online, is restricted to within the borders of the country you’re living in, referred to as geo-blocking.

But now, according to the EC, there is a great incentive to significantly reduce the limitations put on EU citizens with geo-blocking by creating a Digital Single Market that would allow anyone with a subscription in their home country to be able to access it anywhere else in the EU.

This means digital content such as films, sports broadcasts, music, e-books and games will be accessible, with the understanding that it would be for people travelling within the EU and would be made “copyright-fit for the digital age”, as the EC puts it.

The EC says that it is hoping to introduce such legislation by 2017, with the actual legislative proposals expected to be drawn up over the next six months following several consultations, which could in all likelihood comes under pressure from the content providers themselves to not encourage it.

Digital purchases also get modernised

Věra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, said of the importance of such a move: “The internet has lifted technological barriers to a Digital Single Market; with the digital contracts proposals we want to lift legal barriers. Consumers and businesses must buy and sell online easily and confidently anywhere in the EU.

“This will also aid in our ability to have a course of action following the purchase of a faulty digital good with origins in another EU country. If the ruling is to pass, someone who purchases a digital copy of a video game online that doesn’t work, they will be able to actually receive customer service and potential reimbursement.”

Whereas, until now, all that could be offered were discounts on further game purchases.

The EC says such modernisation of digital copyright law will benefit the EU economy by as much as €18bn, with EU GDP expected to increase by €4bn from today’s level.

Man watching digital content image via Twin Design/Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic