Portability of digital content services in the EU

Have you ever found yourself in the situation where you wish to view a video on the Internet, but were denied because it’s not available in your country? Or have you ever tried to download an e-book or music on a foreign website, but you couldn’t because you don’t live in the website’s country?

What are the paid subscriptions that I can use?

Since April 1, 2018, thanks to the European regulation 2017/1128 on portability of online content services, if you find yourself temporarily in another EU Member State, you can take advantage of your paid subscriptions to watch movies, television shows, or listen tomusic. The goal of this regulation is to promote the cross-border portability of online content services.

Covered are paid subscriptions anywhere in the EU, such as:

  • Video streaming platforms
  • E-book downloads
  • On-demand TV show access from private national channels
  • Sporting events broadcasts by premium services

Contracts concluded before April 1st, 2018 are also covered by this regulation.  

Do I have access to the same content as in France?

Yes, you have full access to your subscription: in other words, access to the same content, to the same range of content, for the same amount of devices or users, and with the same functions. However, all of this without a service quality guarantee and with the same functionalities.

Exemple: you should be able to benefit from the French Netflix catalogue during your holidays in Spain, or from your Spotify subscription in Italy. You may also follow your national football team via your premium service in Bulgaria.

Can the subscription provider charge me for using the subscription outside of my country of residence?

No. The demand for additional fees is prohibited, your service supplier cannot charge you for using your paid subscription outside of your country of residence, as long as you stay temporarily within another EU Member State. If you are using your mobile data on your smartphone to access the subscription, make sure to avoid roaming charges, consult our article on communication within the EU.

I'm on vacation in France and I can't access my on-demand access to an Italian TV show. Is it normal?

The  portability regulation 2017/1128 only applies to paid subscriptions. Free service providers are free to decide if they offer this possibility to their clients. Free service providers are not required to offer their content in another Member State of the EU. As such, a free on-demand TV service of an Italian TV channel can therefore be inaccessible in another Member State. The European legislator is considering lifting current obstacles (which are linked to author’s rights) to make these free services available everywhere in the future. A directive on television and radio programmes has been adopted by the European Parliament and the EU Council has to be implemented into nationak law od the Member States by 7 June 2021.

On the other hand, a paid on-demand service of a national private TV channel has to be accessible in another Member State.

I am about to move to Germany. Is it possible to keep my French subscription?

No. These new rules only apply to temporary visits to another EU Member State. For example, if you live in Germany, you cannot have a subscription to a French paid TV channel. However, this regulation does not provide for a precise definition of “temporary”. As such, service providers could confirm your place of residence via the payment address, the forms of payment used, your IP address, your Internet access contract, etc. to check if you live in the country and are not only there on a temporary visit.

During my vacation in another European Member State, I subscribed to a streaming service from that country. Can I still use it when I return to France?

No. These new rules only apply to temporary visits to another EU Member State. For example, if you subscribe to a Spanish streaming service during your time in Spain, you cannot keep this subscription indefinitely after your return to France, see above.