Parliament committee votes to put an end to geo-blocking of online goods or services

EPA/SANJEEV GUPTA

Parliament committee votes to put an end to geo-blocking of online goods or services


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A new report approved today by the European Parliament’s Internal Market Committee could have serious consequences for independent music labels, e-book publishers and computer game creators.

The European Parliament’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee today voted in favour of new rules that would prevent geo-blocking of online content in the EU. This means that companies will no longer be able to stop consumers accessing or purchasing from their website just because they are in a different EU Member State.

S&D MEP and Vice-Chair of the Parliament’s Internal Market Committee, Nicola Danti, said:

“This will put an end to irritating messages saying ‘this content is not available in your current location’ or sudden price changes based on whether you are ordering from the Italian or Swedish version of an e-store.”

However, some MEPs remain concerned at the inclusion in the report of copyrighted material bought online.Were the report to be adopted as such, it would mean that small publishers producing books in languages such as Flemish, which do not have a wide audience and who rely on country specific pricing to remain competitive and encourage investment, would find their business models upset, placing at risk continued cultural diversity across Europe.

The draft proposals also mean that music retailers such as Spotify and i-Tunes, which typically sell music more cheaply in some Eastern European countries, would be forced to sell at the same price to anyone logging onto the Eastern European services from Britain or Germany. As a consequence, prices could be forced up in less affluent markets.

Flemish MEP Anneleen Van Bossuyt, ECR shadow rapporteur for the report, said: “Demanding  that these retailers offer the same price in every market could have the unintended effect of forcing some specialist content creators out of business, so reducing consumer choice.

“We support the aim of making the digital single market fit for purpose but , the inclusion of copyrighted online material in the draft legislation risks undermining, not underpinning, the digital economy.”

Some lawmakers support measures to force retailers of traditional goods sell at the same price irrespective of where in the EU customers live because sellers can simply refuse to deliver outside their own national borders, a step not open to producers of digital content.

Although the report was approved by the committee today, some MEPs will continue to press for online copyrighted sales will be removed from the legislation during forthcoming trilogue talks involving the Parliament, European Council and European Commission.

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