From 1 April, if a customer with a subscription to online content visits an EU member state, they should be able to temporarily access the same content and services there as their home country
Starting Sunday, cross-border workers should be able to access online content they’ve subscribed to in the Greater Region, in Luxembourg, thanks to a new European regulation.
The European cross-border portability of online content regulation ensures “seamless access throughout the Union to online content services that are lawfully provided to consumers in their member state of residence.” It applies only to paid-for digital content, the most common suppliers of which include view or listen on demand platforms like Netflix and Spotify and music downloading sites like iTunes, and for temporary trips outside of the country of residence.
Speaking on Wednesday at the consumer lunch talk at Maison de l’Europe in Luxembourg City, government IP office spokesman Lex Kaufhold gave examples for what this could mean for consumers, citing the scenario of a cross-border worker living in France where they subscribe to Canal Play. “The platform works in France but when he travels by train to Luxembourg, he can no longer access it.”
1 April changes
This will change from 1 April, however, when the platform provider will be obliged to ensure that if the customer visits an EU member state, he or she can temporarily access the same content, on the same range and number of devices and the same range of functionalities as offered in the member state of residence.
The regulation ensures access only to the same content and services the consumer would have if accessing it in the member state in which they live. How online content providers interpret that, is up to them. “If they want, they can say during this temporary journey you can access both catalogues of content,” Kaufhold said.
Content providers can verify the member state of residence of each subscriber when they first sign up to their services or renew their conract by two means from a range of permitted methods, outlined in article 5 of the regulation.
For some at the presentation, the directive did not address the main desire of consumers to access all content across all member states at any time. This issue, Kaufhold said, was a long way off being resolved because of the complexities associated with copyright and profitability. “Copyright is territorially based. In particular with films, it follows a policy of making profit precisely by not being available everywhere at the same time,” he said.
The regulation enters into force on 1 April, just in time to benefit anyone travelling abroad over the Easter school holidays.