EU Rules Free Cross-Border Online Subscription Access

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By Alexis Kramer

European Union negotiators have agreed to rules allowing those in the EU to access their online subscriptions to content providers such as Netflix Inc. and Spotify AB while traveling to EU states outside their home country.

The Feb. 7 agreement between negotiators for the European Parliament, European Commission and member states is the first to reflect the commission’s copyright modernization proposals under the Digital Single Market strategy, a regulatory framework designed to remove barriers between EU states and create uniform rules to promote growth and innovation in the digital economy.

The rules must be confirmed by the Council of the EU and the European Parliament. If adopted, they will take effect by the beginning of 2018.

“People who have subscribed to their favourite series, music and sports events at home will be able to enjoy them when they travel in Europe,” European Commission Vice President for the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip said in a statement. “This is a new important step in breaking down barriers in the Digital Single Market.”

Online content service providers would be required under the rules to permit Europeans to access their paid subscriptions as if they were in their home countries. Under the rules, providers would verify subscribers’ countries of residence through their IP addresses, payment details or online contracts.

Providers that offer free online content services won’t be required to follow the rules but will have the option to provide cross-border portability to their subscribers.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alexis Kramer in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Keith Perine at

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