EU could force Netflix to let people watch films from other countries' libraries

The rule is intended to enable Netflix users access to their 'home' libraries when travelling abroad, months after it launched a huge crackdown

Andrew Griffin
Monday 13 February 2017 11:27
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The EU is to force Netflix to allow people to watch their 'home' libraries when travelling abroad.

However, the rules being discussed could permit access to other countries' libraries too.

The European Parliament is finalising legislation that would let people access their online media, like games or films, from their own country. At the moment, doing so is either impossible or very hard, because of restrictions that companies like Netflix put on the use of VPNs and other services.

Under the new rules, the parliament will stop content providers from using an IP address as a way of identifying where people are.

Instead, online content providers will have to take "reasonable and proportionate measures", according to the EU. Those might include "checks on electronic identification, payment details, public tax information, postal address details or IP address checks", for instance.

While the rules are intended as a way of allowing people to travel around Europe and still get access to their music and films from home, they might also force companies to open up the current restrictions they place on watching content from other countries. Until recently, companies like Netflix had taken a relatively permissive approach to signing up to other libraries – but in recent years it has launched a huge crackdown that has all but put a stop to the trick.

The EU said that it had taken the decision because almost half of EU internet users do so to listen to music and watch films online. It expects more people will do so on the move when roaming charges in Europe come to an end, allowing people to use their normal internet plan wherever they are on the continent.

The rules now have to be formally approved by the Legal Affairs Committee, Parliament as a whole and the European Council, at which point they will start being enforced.

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