Tobold's Blog
Thursday, February 09, 2017
EU Digital Single Market

There has been a lot of discussion and action last year about people using VPN services to circumvent the geoblocking that video streaming services like Netflix or Amazon Prime have set up. Some media producers went as far as calling VPN users "pirates", in spite of the fact that a user of Netflix + VPN is paying Netflix no less than somebody who is simply traveling to a different location. As one reader on this site pointed out, using a VPN is more akin to smuggling than to pirating. And as the users of video streaming services point out, the geoblocking is a somewhat unfair practice. Now the European Commission has strongly agreed with the users: Geoblocking in Europe will be illegal from 2018 on.

That is good news for me, as a subscriber of the German version of Amazon Prime. Right now I can only use the service fully when I am in Germany. When I am in Belgium, which is most of the time, I can only see a limited selection of Amazon Prime originals. The European Commission clarifies that me being blocked from content just because I crossed an inner-European border is an unfair practice and will become illegal. The goal is to create an EU-wide Digital Single Market, where me having access to German video streaming services in Belgium is as easy and normal as me ordering physical goods from Germany online. It is the people who are trying to block that who are the "pirates".

Should be worldwide but I guess EU-wide is a start. But we can't catch a break with UK leaving EU ;-)
It will be interesting to see how the copyright holders handle this. Will they roll out their own products, like "Hulu" and just cut off Netflix and Amazon? Netflix and Amazon will, of course, still have their own IP, and whatever they still have in the pipe if that happens.

Or will they take the approach of cutting everyone off to drive direct sales?

I'm pretty sure of what they're NOT going to do, though... and that's just let you stream whatever for cheap. They would be leaving too much of your money on the table!
The answer to excessive regulation is not more regulation. As it does in many cases, I expect this regulation will have the opposite of the desired effect.

Amazon and Netflix do not withhold content from various countries because they are evil corporations, but rather because the content owners do not permit them to distribute in certain locations.

Hopefully Netflix and Amazon find a way to make it happen, but do not be shocked if the content available in 2018 suddenly shrinks to a fraction of what it is now.
Now that I actually followed the link there might be a chance you'll be screwed Tobold. It will allow you to use the content you pay for at home all over the EU.

"The online content service providers like Netflix, MyTF1 or Spotify will verify the subscriber's country of residence by using means such as payment details, the existence of an internet contract or by checking the IP address."

Let's hope Amazon Prime DE doesn't cut you off completely when they realize you are located in BE. Solvable by VPN but then no change to now.
No problem. I have a place of residence in Germany. Technically Germany even considers that as my primary place of residence, because as a German any residence outside the country is considered as secondary residence, regardless of how many days a year you spend there.
While this is a step forward it is still a far cry from the spirit of the single market. You may be lucky enough to have an address in Germany but a if you want to watch French Netflix or Amazon Video from an English speaking country?
I'd like to see an end to the balkanisation of online poker, but that seems to be proceeding apace in the EU.
Does that also mean that services that are usually completely unavailable to some countries of the EU, will now be made available EU-wide? I.e. I do not qualify for Prime at all, will it suddenly open up?
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