EU Amps Up Cross-Border Digital Access Push

     (CN) – Europeans’ long national nightmare of discovering they can’t access “Game of Thrones” on their tablets while vacationing outside their home states may soon be over, under a sweeping overhaul of digital-accessibility rules proposed by the European Commission on Wednesday.
     Currently, Europeans traveling to another member state within the EU are often cut off from online services they have paid for in their home state – meaning they are blocked from accessing films, sports broadcasts, music, e-books and games they have paid to use on their mobile devices.
     As part of its vision for a digital single market, the commission proposed a regulation on Wednesday that would lift invisible cross-border restrictions on digital content as early as 2017 – the same year cellphone roaming charges for crossing from one state to another will become a thing of the past.
     “Seven months ago, we promised fast delivery of the digital single market. Today we present our first proposals. We want to ensure the portability of content across borders. People who legally buy content – films, books, football matches, TV series – must be able to carry it with them anywhere they go in Europe,” digital market commissioner Andrus Ansip said.
     The commission’s proposal is part of a larger effort to modernize EU copyright law in the advent of digital technologies that have changed the way the world accesses cultural works.
     But because of the hodgepodge of national and contractual rules across the 28 member states, the commission said the EU’s e-commerce potential has remained largely untapped.
     While 49 percent of Internet users in the EU listen to music, watch movies and play games online, only 12 percent of e-retailers sell to consumers – and only 15 percent of consumers buy from e-stores – outside their member states because of cross-border restrictions, the commission said.
     The commission’s proposals must be approved by EU lawmakers before they can take effect, which is expected sometime in 2016.

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