Advanced Television

UK consults on content portability

January 5, 2018

By Colin Mann

The UK’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has launched a consultation on its proposed approach to enforcement of the EU Portability Regulation which ends on January 31st 2018.

From April 1st 2018, online streaming services will be required to allow EU-based subscribers access to paid-for content when temporarily in another EU Member State, for example when on holiday. Free services and those tied to the payment of licence fees, (for example BBC iPlayer) can offer this service but are not obliged to. Service providers are not allowed to impose an additional charge to provide portable services or to take steps to decrease the quality of the service in other Member States.

Presently, this is not always possible as some providers block access to their services outside a subscriber’s home country and this is often done in order to comply with territorial agreements on the use of copyright-protected content. This is common in relation to film and video services in particular. Under the Regulation, such content services must be provided on a ‘portable’ basis throughout the EU.

Under the terms of the Regulation, there must be no additional cost to subscribers for accessing their content portably when temporarily present in another EU Member State (Article 3.2). In order to protect the rights of copyright owners, portable service providers must verify the home country of their subscribers to ensure they are entitled to access the service in accordance with the Regulation.

The Regulation contains a number of safeguards to ensure copyright is protected. For example, providers must verify the Member State of residence of subscribers to ensure they are entitled to receive content. A failure to verify subscribers may result in copyright infringement.

Appropriate enforcement mechanisms need to be in place in UK law when the Portability Regulation comes into effect. The IPO has considered how to provide this and its proposed approach is outlined in the technical consultation.

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