Due to complicated licensing agreements Netflix is only available in a few dozen countries, all of which have a different content library.
The same is true for many other media services such as BBC iPlayer, Amazon Instant Video, and even YouTube.
These geo-blocking practices have been a thorn in the side of the European Commission, who now plan to abolish these restrictions altogether.
Today the EU’s governing body adopted the new Digital Single Market Strategy. One of the main pillars of the new strategy is to provide consumers and businesses with better access to digital goods and services.
Among other things the Commission plans “to end unjustified geo-blocking,” which it describes as “a discriminatory practice used for commercial reasons.”
“I want to see every consumer getting the best deals and every business accessing the widest market – wherever they are in Europe,” Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker says.
Another key element on the new strategy is a modern and more European copyright law. The Commission notes that the legislative proposals to achieve this will follow before the end of the year.
Under the revamped copyright law it should be easier for consumers to access and enjoy content online. This means that consumers will have the right to access content they purchased at home in other European countries.
According to the Commission various industries need to adapt to the new realities of the digital age, indirectly hinting at the restrictive and conservative movie industry.
“Europe has strengths to build on, but also homework to do, in particular to make sure its industries adapt, and its citizens make full use of the potential of new digital services and goods, Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society Günther Oettinger says.
“We have to prepare for a modern society and will table proposals balancing the interests of consumers and industry,” he adds.
The new Digital Single Market Strategy doesn’t come as a surprise. Previously, several insiders called for the lifting of many unnecessary copyright restrictions. With the plans now being official it will be interesting to see what concrete proposals will follow and how the copyright industries respond.