Brussels
01 December 2016
Reporter: Mark Dugdale

IP Summit: Any portability in a storm


In-house experts at the IP Summit reacted to the news that the EU Regulation on Cross-Border Portability had passed the parliamentary legal affairs committee, urging further tweaks and amendments before trilogue discussions proceed.

The legal affairs committee unanimously approved the regulation, which will enable EU citizens subscribing to online content services to access content while abroad in another EU country, in a vote on 29 November.

European member of parliament Jean-Marie Cavada said: “I am very pleased, as rapporteur, to have been able to take part in drafting this regulation, which makes it possible to introduce the uniform application of portability rules in Europe, a reform much awaited by our fellow citizens.”

“I am all the more pleased that the report makes it possible to ensure respect for territoriality, which is essential for the proper development and financing of the audiovisual and cinematographic sector in Europe.”

The IP summit panel was in agreement that territoriality would need to be respected, otherwise investment in content would suffer. A report issued in May argued that full cross-border content portability in the EU would cost TV and movie producers up to €8.2 billion per year in the short term.

Nicolas Galibert, president of Sony/ATV Music Publishing, said: “Portability is compatible with territoriality.”

He added: “[Of course] portability can mean piracy. As long as we’re getting paid, portability is fine by us.”

Philip Pilcher, head of European policy at Sky, argued that the broadcaster’s customers want portability.

Making portability mandatory would also help to level the playing for the likes of Sky, which operates in five European markets and has 22 million customers. Platforms such as Netflix are able to strike global licensing deals with rights holders, he explained, allowing them to enable their subscribers to benefit from roaming.

The European Parliament's legal affairs committee did opt to exclude geolocation from random checks, via the subscriber's IP address, that can be carried out for verification purposes, to ensure the protection of personal data.

Pilcher told attendees of the IP summit that this will be “very problematic” and that Sky is advocating for its reinstatement to the regulation during trilogue discussions between the council, commission and parliament.

How long any period of portability will last is also under consideration, with Telifonica special legal counsel Alec Cameron arguing that “a limited period of time” would be best, as it indicates a short vacation, as opposed to settling in a new member state permanently.

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