New EU rules to allow ‘streaming without borders’

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Online content is increasingly being accessed using portable devices, however when travelling abroad content might be blocked. This could all change due to MEPs voting on 18 May on new rules that would allow users to enjoy their online film subscriptions when traveling in the EU the same way they do at home. Also it not only applies to TV series and films, but also to other digital products such as e-books and songs.

Under the new regulation, everyone who has paid for the right to watch, listen or read online content from a provider in their home country, will be allowed to do so in any other EU country where they are staying for a limited period.

The access is granted only to people traveling to another EU country for a limited period, for example because they are on holiday, or on a business or study trip.

Jean-Marie Cavada, the French ALDE member responsible for steering the new rules through Parliament, said: “If you live for instance in Germany but you go on holiday or visit your family or work in Spain, you will be able to access the services that you had in Germany in any other country in the Union, because the text covers the EU.”

Content providers will have the possibility to verify the location of the subscribers. The draft text to be voted on calls for safeguarding measures to be included in the regulation to ensure that the data and privacy of users are respected throughout the verification process.

If adopted, the regulation would apply from the first half of 2018 and also apply to subscriptions already in place.

This regulation would not only allow users to enjoy services that they have paid for, regardless of where they are in the EU. It is also expected to discourage piracy by promoting access to legally acquired content.

The measure complements the end of roaming, which will become a reality on 15 June 2017. MEPs are also considering new rules on geo-blocking to ensure that online sellers do not discriminate against consumers because of where they live in the EU.

Nearly 11% of European households had a subscription to a video on demand service in 2016. Their number is estimated to double by 2020, according to the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), Netflix takes the lion’s share with 54% of the EU’s subscription market.