EU Parliament takes strong stance against geoblocking

The report makes the Parliament's copyright reform wishes clear to the European Commission

European Parliament logo on a building over Rue Wiertz in Brussels on June 17, 2015

European Parliament logo on a building over Rue Wiertz in Brussels on June 17, 2015

A large majority of the European Parliament took a strong stance against geoblocking of online content in a report calling on the European Commission to reform E.U. copyright laws.

The E.U.'s copyright rules, adopted in 2001, are in need of an urgent overhaul. The Parliament's report, adopted with 445 votes to 65 with 32 abstentions on Thursday, assesses the implementation of the old law ahead of the Commission's upcoming proposal to modernize it.

The Commission is scheduled to make proposals for a new European copyright law by the end of the year.

Though the Commission has already said it was planning to address geoblocking, Günther Oettinger, Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, has spoken out against a fast reform. He first wants to analyze how the film and TV industry would be affected.

While the Parliament's report is a non-binding resolution, its adoption is seen as a precursor of the draft copyright laws that are likely to pass after they are presented by the Commission to the Parliament for approval.

In the report, the Parliament called on the Commission to look for ways to improve access to online content across borders, "while recognizing the importance of territorial licences, particularly for TV and film productions."

It stressed, however, that consumers are too often denied access to content and services on geographical grounds. It wants the Commission to propose adequate solutions for better cross-border accessibility of services and copyright content for consumers.

Geoblocking practices should not prevent cultural minorities living in E.U. Member States from accessing existing content or services, it stressed.

The report did call for potentially expanding the liability of online platforms and ISPs when their users infringe copyrights. It suggested a review of the liability of service providers and intermediaries in order to clarify their legal status

The Parliament also wants to make it easier for libraries to lend out e-books and digitize collections, something that is currently not included in the Commission's plans for a digital single market.

Julia Reda, the Member of the European Parliament (MEP) who drafted the report, welcomed the instructions given to Commissioner Oettinger, but noted that many MEPs have yet to fully understand the cultural shift caused by the Internet and its consequences for copyright. "Much work remains until we have a European copyright framework fit for the digital age," she said.

On Thursday, two controversial amendments to the report were rejected. One of them was an attempt from German conservative MEPs to call on the Commission to pave the way for an ancillary copyright for press publishers. Such a copyright would potentially force search engines like Google to pay for the republishing of news snippets.

Another proposal, urging the Commission to restrict the right to use pictures of public buildings and sculptures, also didn't get approval.

IT industry group DigitalEurope slammed the report for a lack of ambition. "As the Commission fleshes out its reform plans for copyright in the digital single market, the European Parliament appears to favor 'reform lite'," the group said in a news release.

The tech industry, along with consumer and civil society groups, have long been pushing for the abolition of copyright levies on devices. Those levies are an outdated, inefficient, un-transparent tax on consumers born in the analog age and totally unfit for the digital environment, and the Reda report ignores calls for their abolition, DigitalEurope said.

On Friday, the final version of the report was not yet available but a provisional version that is almost entirely the same as the adopted text can be found on the Parliament's website.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, online payment issues as well as EU technology policy and regulation for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags governmentcopyrightlegalintellectual propertyeuropean commissionEuropean Parliament

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Loek Essers

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?