EU Parliament approves OTT cross-border portability

A mere three months after the European Commission proposed allowing OTT service subscribers to access their subscriptions when abroad the European Parliament has approved it.

But don’t start planning your holiday box set streaming binge just yet. The approval of two massive bureaucratic bodies is just the start of the process in Euro-land; the draft law still needs the approval of the EU Council of Ministers. And three months seems to have been viewed in hindsight as needlessly hasty, so the Council has been given nine months to find its rubber stamp.

“European citizens have been waiting for these new rules, which represent a step towards a common digital market,” said Jean-Marie Cavada, described as a Rapporteur in the announcement. “The news rules increase mobility and successfully offer portability to users of European online content, without affecting copyright.”

Measures, we are assured, will be put into place to protect OTT content providers such as Netflix from fraudulent use of the new measures by people who are not merely on holiday. Providers will be allowed to take ‘effective and reasonable’ measures to protect themselves, including IP address checks. The rules only apply to online fee-based services.

This draft law is part of the broader Digital Single Market strategy, that hopes to bring Europe closer together, both economically and culturally, by lowering the cross-border barriers. Reducing the cost of communicating within the bloc is a central pillar of this strategy – hence the abolition of roaming charges.

“The rules voted today mean that, as of the beginning of next year, people who have subscribed to their favourite series, music and sports events at home will be able to enjoy them when they travel in the European Union,” said VP for the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip. Combined with the end of roaming charges, it means that watching films or listening to music while on holiday abroad will not bring any additional costs to people who use mobile networks.

“This is an important step in breaking down barriers in the Digital Single Market. We now need agreements on our other proposals to modernise EU copyright rules and ensure wider access to creative content across borders and fairer rules for creators. I rely on the European Parliament and Member States to make swift progress to make this happen.”

It may well happen, but expecting swiftness may be a wish too far.

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