Regulation on ‘cross-border portability’ of online content services: Roaming for Netflix or the end of copyright territoriality?

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Series Details 15 February 2016
Publication Date 15/02/2016
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In a communication to the Parliament and the Council entitled “Towards a modern, more European copyright framework” and dated 9 December 2015, the European Commission confirmed its intention to progressively remove the main obstacles to the functioning of the Digital Single Market for copyrighted works.

The first step of this long-term plan, which was first announced in Juncker’s Political Guidelines and the Communication on “A Digital Single Market strategy for Europe”, is a proposal for a regulation aimed at ensuring the so-called ‘cross-border portability’ of online services giving access to content such as music, games, films and sporting events.

In a nutshell, the proposed regulation seeks to enable consumers with legal access to such online content services in their country of residence to use the same services also when they are in another member state for a limited period of time.

On the one hand, this legislative proposal has the full potential to resolve the (limited) issue of portability, which stems from the national dimension of copyright and the persisting territorial licensing and distribution of copyright content.5 On the other hand, as this commentary shows, the ambiguity of certain important provisions in the proposed regulation might affect its scope and effectiveness and contribute to the erosion of the principle of copyright territoriality.

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