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EU agrees deal to access online films and TV while abroad

09 February 2017, 23:35 CET
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EU agrees deal to access online films and TV while abroad

Photo © Rui Araujo - Fotolia

(BRUSSELS) - EU citizens will be able use their subscriptions to online music, games, films and TV shows while travelling abroad under new rules informally agreed Tuesday by Parliament and Council negotiators.

At the moment, consumers who visit another EU country are prevented from accessing and using online content services, even though they have subscribed to these in their home country, as cross-border portability is restricted by territorial and exclusive licensing practices.

The new rules will remove these restrictions for all new subscriptions and also for those purchased before the rules enter into force, thus enabling EU citizens to access this online content while temporarily abroad in another EU country on holiday, for studies or for business.

However, they will apply only to online fee-based services. Free-of-charge services will not be subject to the rules, but their providers will have the option of making them portable EU wide.

In 2016, 64% of Europeans used the internet to play or download games, images, films or music - increasingly through mobile devices. A 2015 survey found that one in three Europeans wanted cross-border portability - even more for younger people.

Online content service providers such as Netflix, MyTF1 or Spotify verify the subscriber's country of residence by using means such as payment details, the existence of an internet contract or by checking the IP address.

The agreed legislation will allow online content service providers to take "reasonable and proportionate measures" to verify the EU country of residence of the subscriber. A closed list of permitted verification methods includes checks on electronic identification, payment details, public tax information, postal address details or IP address checks. Service providers will be required to inform customers of the verification methods used and take appropriate security measures to protect their data.

The new rules now need to be formally approved by Parliament's Legal Affairs Committee, Parliament as a whole and then the Council.

Proposal for a regulation on ensuring the cross-border portability of online content services in the internal market

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