Now you see it, now you don’t! Geo-blocking and the Internet

June 2015: A report by the European Parliament on the subject of “geo-blocking” makes reference to European Commission Eurobarometer data indicating that 315 million Europeans use the internet every day out of a total European population of 507 million. Geo-blocking, a commercial practice that prevents online customers from accessing a product or service from a website based in another Member State or which automatically re-routes them to a local site, has resulted in 52% of European users being denied access to a website because of where the internet user lives. Nearly 50% of all people have failed to access streaming services from their own country while on holiday abroad. The EU Commission proposes legislative changes to competition and copyright laws which will address the practice of geo-blocking with a view to enhancing consumer protection and competition. The Court of Justice of the European Union has previously ruled that whilst exclusive territorial licensing did not, as such, infringe EU competition law, prohibiting the importation, sale and/or use of satellite decoder cards in another Member State was in breach of EU competition law. The ruling in that case may well result in reform to the current system of cross-border distribution of audiovisual and media content as well as geo-blocking practices, striking a balance between the principle of the free movement of services and the exercise of intellectual property rights


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