Published On: Wed, Feb 8th, 2017

You can not access online films and TV while abroad in Europe: things are going to change

New rules allowing EU citizens with subscriptions for online music, games, films and TV shows to access this content while staying temporarily in another EU country, were informally agreed by Parliament and Council negotiators on Tuesday.

Rapporteur Jean-Marie Cavada (ALDE, FR) said: ”The quality of the discussions between the institutions has led to this satisfying agreement that will benefit all EU-citizens but also service providers, right holders and creators. This signifies very important progress in the context of the Single Market.”

According to the Commission, almost half of EU internet users, 49%, listen to music, watch videos and play games online. Many of them expect to do so while they travel in the EU. Their numbers are expected to grow as Europeans will pay less to access the internet on their mobile devices in other EU member states from 15 June 2017, when mobile “roaming” charges end in the EU.

Today, consumers visiting another EU country often cannot access and use online content services, such as music, games, films, entertainment programmes or sporting events, that they have subscribed to in their home country, because their 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.

Residence check and data protection

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.

Next steps

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