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Watching all of Netflix might no longer need a VPN, as European Commission lays out plan to reform copyright law


Netflix content varies wildly across the EU and rest of the world

Netflix content varies wildly across the EU and rest of the world

Netflix content varies wildly across the EU and rest of the world

People might no longer need a VPN to watch Netflix content outside of their own country, as a result of a major change expected by the European Commission.

The EU is planning to reform copyright law so that people can legally take content that they have purchased in one country elsewhere on the continent.

The new rules look to ensure that content has “cross-border portability”. That would mean that people would be able to take the videos and music that they have bought with them — as well as services like Sky Go and Netflix, which are currently limited to the country that they were bought in.

“People who legally buy content – films, books, football matches, TV series – must be able to carry it with them anywhere they go in Europe,” said Andrus Ansip, Vice-President for the Digital Single Market. “This is a real change, similar to what we did to end roaming charges.”

Services like Netflix have different catalogues depending on where people are, largely because of the copyright and licensing rules that mean that agreements must be negotiated separately in each country. But the new rules would mean that anyone could get a subscription in the UK and then take their tablet to France — and still be able to watch all of the same videos.

The plan is similar to that proposed by Netflix itself. The company has said that it eventually wants to make all of its content global, so that everyone would be able to watch everything that the service has in its catalogue, depending on where they are.

As well as allowing people to take the content that they have subscribed to with them, the EU also claims that the changes will help piracy. It intends to set up a process that would ensure that copyright is enforced across the continent in one single way, the Commission said.

The rule won’t apply to free services, because they don’t have the same verification rules. BBC iPlayer won’t be available to everyone in Europe, for instance, because it doesn’t verify where people live.

The EU will release more details of the proposals in spring.