Europe's anti geo-blocking legislation passes with one major caveat: it now excludes video servicesBy Jose Vilches
European regulators have already agreed on eliminating mobile roaming charges in 2017, and now they also want citizens to be able to access their online services without any geographic restrictions to content. Well, to some extent at least.
The law was presented by the European Commission (EC) last December and member state representatives endorsed the proposal today, paving the way for final approval on May 26. But while knocking down territorial licensing is a welcome move, the original plan appears to have been scaled down dramatically according to documents obtained by Politico (via TorrentFreak), which mentions exceptions for audio-visual content like Netflix.
Page 11 of the document mentions the proposal is designed so that it ensures maximum legal certainty for traders (translation: we won't force copyright holders to rework licensing agreements) and then specifically mentions it excludes audio-visual services, among others. Later, on page 18, the European Commission again references exemptions for services offering products that are subject to territorial licensing.
The sudden turnaround is likely the result of intense lobbying from content owners, who've also pressured Netflix to start blocking users from accessing content from other regions using VPN services. The latter was a notably unpopular move that has already resulted in over 45,000 people petitioning the video streaming service to reconsider this policy. That's unlikely to happen without licensing content globally – also unlikely to happen soon.