EU Proposes Cross-Border Access to Online Content


BRUSSELS: The European Commission has proposed new regulations for access to online content services across country borders, in addition to outlining its vision to modernize current EU copyright rules.

Currently, Europeans traveling within the EU may be cut off from online services providing films, sports broadcasts, music, e-books or games that they have paid for in their home country. A newly proposed regulation on the cross-border portability of online content services addresses these restrictions, and would allow EU residents to travel with the digital content they have purchased or subscribed to at home.

Cross-border portability, which would be a new EU right for consumers, is expected to be in effect in 2017, the same year as the end of roaming charges in the EU. Once adopted, it would be directly applicable in all 28 EU member states.

The Commission also outlined its vision of a modern EU copyright framework, which will eventually be translated into legislative proposals and policy initiatives, taking into account input from several public consultations. The commission wants to make sure that Europeans can access a wide legal offer of content, while ensuring that authors and other rights holders are better protected and fairly compensated.

Andrus Ansip, the VP for the Digital Single Market, said: "Seven months ago, we promised fast delivery of the Digital Single Market. Today we present our first proposals. We want to ensure the portability of content across borders. People who legally buy content—films, books, football matches, TV series—must be able to carry it with them anywhere they go in Europe. This is a real change, similar to what we did to end roaming charges. Today, we also set out our vision for a modern copyright regime in the EU—and the gradual steps to achieve it. Our aim is to widen people's access to cultural content online and support creators. We want to strengthen European R&D, using technologies like text and data mining. The Digital Single Market is the blueprint for Europe claiming its place in the digital era, today we start making it a reality."

Günther H. Oettinger, the commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society, added: "The Regulation proposed today is the first step of an ambitious reform. I count on the co-legislators to make sure that portability becomes reality for European consumers by 2017 so that they can enjoy their favorite content also when they travel in the EU—and without the fear of roaming charges, which will end by mid-2017. Our action plan gives the direction for further reform in spring next year: we want a copyright environment that is stimulating, fair, rewards investment in creativity and makes it easier for Europeans to access and use content legally. Our ongoing work on the role of platforms and online intermediaries will also help to translate our plan into concrete proposals."

The BBC released a comment about the proposal: "We are interested in being able to allow U.K. license-fee payers to access BBC iPlayer while they are on holiday in the EU, and welcome the European Commission proposing regulation to help make this possible. There are complex technical issues to resolve and aspects of the Commission’s proposal need clarification. Being able to offer BBC iPlayer also depends on the U.K. government implementing legislation to modernize the license fee to include VOD as well as linear viewing, something the government has committed to do next year. That will mean users of BBC iPlayer could be verified as U.K. license-fee payers while they are on holiday in the EU."