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Euro bloc blocks streaming vid geoblocks

Now your soaps can come on holiday, too

European Union citizens will soon be able to carry their streaming video subscriptions across borders, without virtual private networks but not necessarily for free.

Negotiators of the European Parliament, member states and the European Commission have agreed to lift geoblocks within the EU, as part of copyright modernisation in the bloc. The idea was first proposed after copyright modernisation consultations in 2013 and 2014.

Education, culture, youth, and sport commissioner Tibor Navracsics welcomed the agreement as part of “efforts to build a Digital Single Market that offers new opportunities for both creators and consumers”.

As the EU statement notes, “when a French consumer subscribes to Canal+ film and series online services, the user will be able to access films and series available in France when he or she goes on holidays to Croatia or for a business trip to Denmark.”

Depending on how geographical copyright is negotiated, provides like Netflix or Spotify may have to talk to rights owners, since often a geoblock reflects the wishes not of the platform, but the copyright owner.

“All providers who offer paid online content services will have to follow the new rules”, the statement continues.

Freebies such as TV catch-up or radio broadcasters won't yet be obliged to make their services portable.

Presuming there are no stumbling blocks in getting the text of the agreement confirmed by the European Parliament and the Council of the EU, the regulation is expected to come into force at the beginning of 2018.

The text of the proposal is here. ®

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