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Cross-border access to online content guaranteed from 2018


- From January 2018, European citizens subscribed to services providing online content (music, games, films, televised programmes) will be able to use them as they travel around the EU

Cross-border access to online content guaranteed from 2018

An agreement was reached on Tuesday evening between negotiators for the Parliament, the Council and the European Commission on the "portability" regulation they have been discussing since December 2015. It’s a very important piece of the regulatory framework that Commissioner Andrus Ansip is trying to push through to put the "single digital market" into place. 

The new regulation means that from now on, content provided through paid-for online services will no longer be subject to geoblocking: a French consumer subscribed to Canal+ will, for example, be able to access films and series available in France when they go on holiday to Croatia or on a business trip to Denmark. This will go for both new subscribers as well as all those who were already paying for the service before the entry into force of the regulation.

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To avoid abuses of the system, online content service providers will have to check the country of residence of the subscriber based on the invoice details, their Internet contract or their IP address; they will nonetheless have to inform clients of the verification methods used and protect their personal data. Services provided for free, like those offered by public television broadcasters, will not be bound by this regulation, but will also have the option of offering portability to their subscribers.

"The new rules on portability will be adapted to the way Europeans use cultural and entertainment content these days", says the Commission; in fact studies show that one European in three wants cross-border portability of content, and that 64% of Europeans watch content over the Internet. As far as the assignees are concerned, cross-border portability is nonetheless still often seen as a threat to the territoriality of rights on which the funding of audiovisual works rests. The European Commissioner for Culture, Tibor Navracsics, has dampened these fears, guaranteeing that "the agreement concluded yesterday will open up a world of possibilities for individuals whilst protecting the creators and those who invest in the production of cultural and sporting content." 

Once it has been approved by the Council of the EU and the European Parliament, the test should enter into force at the beginning of 2018, and providers and right holders will then have nine months to implement the new rules.

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(Translated from French)

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