The exclusion of copyright protected works mean that TV broadcasters, platform operator and other providers of audiovisual content can continue to block access to their content for internet users from other EU countriesm as the EU gives up single digital market for audiovisual content.
Now the European Council has agreed on a draft regulation, negotiations will start between the Council, the European Parliament and the Commission once the Parliament agrees its position.
Geo-blocking is a discriminatory practice that prevents online customers from accessing and purchasing products or services from a website based in another member state. The draft regulation is intended to remove discrimination based on customers’ nationality, place of residence or place of establishment and to boost e-commerce.
“Shopping online from another EU country in the same way as locals do is something that many citizens expect nowadays. The new rules to stop unjustified geo-blocking will improve considerably the e-commerce economy and give citizens access to a wider choice of goods and services. This can only happen if there is a guarantee of safety and trust for both buyers and sellers. With our decision today, which was reached just a few months after the proposal was tabled, we have paved the way for a rapid opening of negotiations with the Parliament and a potential close next yea,” said Peter Žiga, president of the Council and Minister of Economy of Slovakia.
The agreement was reached by qualified majority. It will serve as the Council’s common position to start negotiations with the European Parliament under the EU’s ordinary legislative procedure.
The main objective of the proposal is to prevent discrimination for consumers and companies on access to prices, sales or payment conditions when buying products and services in another EU country.
The new rules will be in compliance with other EU legislation in force applicable to cross-border sales, such as rules on copyright and Union law on judicial cooperation in civil matters.
Under the new rules, traders will not be able to discriminate between customers with regard to the general terms and conditions – including prices – they offer on the sales of goods and services in three cases. These are where the trader :
1. ells goods that are delivered in a member state to which the trader offers delivery or are collected at a location agreed upon with the customer;
2. provides electronically supplied services, such as cloud services, data warehousing services, website hosting and the provision of firewalls. This does not apply to services where the main feature is the provision of access to or use of copyright protected works or other protected subject matter, or the selling of copyright protected works in an intangible form, such as e-books or online music;
3. provides services which are received by the customer in the country where the trader operates, such as hotel accommodation, sports events, car rental, and entry tickets to music festivals or leisure parks.
Unlike price discrimination, price differentiation will not be prohibited, so traders are free to offer different general conditions of access, including prices, and to target certain groups of customers in specific territories.
Moreover, traders will not be obliged to deliver goods to customers outside the member state to which they offer delivery.