Streamers in Europe lost a round to Netflix yesterday as the European Union exempted streaming services from anti-geoblocking rules. The decision will keep European streamers geoblocked within their national borders.
The European Parliament voted overwhelmingly to prevent online companies from blocking their services within the EU’s borders. Germany’s Deutche Welle reported that the 557 to 89 vote would give consumers easier access to online services that were once fenced within national borders.
In a joint statement, members of the European Commission said, “The European Parliament voted to end unjustified discrimination when people shop online in the European Union. Banning unjustified geoblocking is great news for consumers in Europe.”
Who Wins, Who Loses
The new rules mean a small business in Poland will be able to buy web hosting services from a provider in Greece. Consumers in France who find a better deal on a car in Norway will be able to buy it online.
The ban against such geofencing, however, does not apply to Netflix, Spotify and other streaming services. Despite strong opposition from consumer rights organizations, the distribution of copyrighted content can still be restricted by country.
Geofencing has long been a frustration for streamers around the world. The complicated licensing agreements between artists, media companies and streaming companies keep the streaming landscape fragmented.
Because of geofences around licensing zones, people in Japan get more choices from Netflix than people in the United States and titles available to streamers in Belgium won’t appear when people living a few miles away in France look for them online.