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Europe wants to get rid of its Netflix ‘borders’

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David Cornish
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Copyright laws and the internet don't really get on - and the EU wants to change that.

The European Commission has tabled copyright law reforms that would pave the way to "cross-border portability of online content services" - that is, if you've bought a media subscription service in one country, you should still be able to access this data the moment you cross a "physical" border.

In practice, this would mean that if you were to go on holiday from the UK to Spain, you'd still be able to access your Sky subscription, watch BBC videos and browse your Netflix choices - a process that's currently only possible with dubious VPN services.

"We want to ensure the portability of content across borders," said Andrus Ansip, Vice-President for the Digital Single Market. "People who legally buy content – films, books, football matches, TV series – must be able to carry it with them anywhere they go in Europe. This is a real change, similar to what we did to end roaming charges."

Licencing laws and copyright battles usually ensure that services such as Netflix present a different collection of media depending on your location in the world. Earlier this year Netflix CEO Reed Hastings stated that he was hoping to push toward a "universal content" model, to help banish piracy and do away with VPN services.

"The VPN scenario is someone who wants to pay and can't quite pay," said Hastings. "The basic solution is for Netflix to get global and have its content be the same all around the world so there's no incentive to [use a VPN]. Then we can work on the more important part, which is piracy."

If the EU pushes through a deal that sees Netflix create a single subscription for all 28 EU members, who knows, it could be the first step toward properly global media content. 

The European Commission hopes to introduce the "cross-border" plan by 2017 - so you'll have to make do with a holiday book until then.

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David Cornish

Shortlist.com’s esteemed Tech Editor. David has a keen interest in video games, Star Wars and stuff that runs on batteries.

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