Online platforms and DSM on ITRE

At today’s meeting of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, we have adopted a report on online platforms and the digital single market.
The industry agreement supports the cross-border dimension of online platforms, using more affordable services.
Europeans traveling to the EU will no longer be cut off from films, broadcasts, music, e-books, games. Everyone should have access to movies, music and games while traveling. Internet service providers may not impose additional fees on subscribers for the provision of cross-border services.

Digital Single Market – Portability of online content services

Questions and Answers:

1/ What is the objective of the Regulation?

The objective is to ensure that Europeans who buy or subscribe to online content services providing access to films, sports broadcasts, music, e-books and games at home are able to access them when they travel in other EU countries.

2/ Who will benefit from the new rules?

•  Consumers who reside in the EU: new rules will enable them to continue using online content services – to watch films or sporting events, listen to music, download e-books or play games – when visiting other EU countries.

•  Online platforms: they will be able to provide cross-border portability to consumers without having to acquire licences for other territories.

•  Right holders: they will be able to rely on strong safeguards which protect their rights against abuses.

3/ How will the content providers verify the country of residence?

The service provider will have to verify the subscriber’s country of residence. This will be done at the conclusion and renewal of the contract.

Service providers will be able to verify the country of residence on the basis of information such as payment details, payment of a licence fee for broadcasting services, the existence of a contract for internet or telephone connection, IP checks or the subscriber’s declaration about his or her address. The service provider will be able to apply up to two means of verification from the list included in the Regulation.

4/ Will the Regulation also apply to online services provided free of charge?

Providers of online content services which are provided free of charge will be able to choose whether they want to benefit from these new rules. Once they opt-in and provide portability under the Regulation, all rules will apply to them in the same manner as for the paid services.

5/ Do you have examples of problems that the Regulation will solve?

People travelling abroad in the EU often face restrictions: they can be cut off from their online content services or have only limited access. Many people – especially when they leave for short trips – will not find it convenient to take out subscription to a local service, or may find that their favourite films and series are not available or only in a foreign language.

•  A subscriber trying to watch films using his Home Box Office (HBO) Nordic account when on holiday in Italy sees a message saying that the service “is only available in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland”.

•  A French user of the MyTF1 film and series service is not able to rent a new film while on business trip to the UK.

Users may, for example, only be able to view the content that they have already downloaded onto their portable device.

•  Users of the Belgian film service Universciné must remember to download a film they have rented before leaving for a trip in another EU country. They are not able to use the Universciné streaming feature when away from their home country.

There are less significant problems or restrictions concerning the portability of subscriptions to online music services (like Spotify or Deezer) or e-books. But restrictions in the future cannot be excluded, that is why today’s rules are also important for such services.

6/ Will the service provider be able to charge for portability?

No, under the new rules, online content services will not be allowed to impose additional charges to consumers/subscribers for providing cross-border portability.

7/ Will the portability of sports online subscriptions be covered by the new rules?

Yes, various online sports content services will be covered: where sports are part of TV or radio programme available online, where sports are part of the overall online service package, the main feature of which is the provision of works protected by copyright or related rights (e.g. films and series), but also where a sports organiser sets up a dedicated online content service.