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14 March 2018

The portability of online content: an update

We have written previously on the introduction of Regulation (EU) 2017/1128 which will allow consumers in the EU who have paid for online content services in their home country to access those services when visiting other EU member states without paying any additional fees (the “EU Regulation”).

This Regulation was adopted on 8 June 2017 and will come into force on 20 March 2018. The introduction of the EU Regulation is part of the European Commission’s drive to create a Digital Single Market with improved choice and access for consumers and businesses to digital goods and services. The intention of the Digital Single Market being to create an environment in which digital networks and services can flourish; paving the way for long-term growth of the European data economy.

UK approach

The UK Government has shown its commitment to the Digital Single Market Strategy through the introduction of the Portability of Online Content Services Regulations 2018 (SI 2018/249) (the “UK Regulation”). The UK Regulation was laid before Parliament on 28 February 2018 and will come into force on 1 April 2018. Given the EU Regulation will be directly applicable to the UK, the fact the UK Government has taken early steps to ensure compliance by providers of online content post-Brexit indicates the UK Government is fully engaged in the drive to remove cross-border access barriers to subscribers of online content services.

Practically this means that online content service providers that charge a fee will need to ensure compliance with the Regulation from 20 March 2018. It also means that UK subscribers to online content services should not see a return of content blocking post-Brexit.

Further developments

In February 2018 the European Parliament formally adopted the geo-blocking regulation and the regulation was published in the Official Journal on 2 March 2018. Geo-blocking is another key area of focus for the European Commission in relation to the implementation of the Digital Single Market Strategy and it will be interesting to see whether the UK Government takes a similarly proactive approach to its post-Brexit enforcement.


This article was written by Rachel Bell. For more information, please contact Rachel on +44(0)20 7427 6573 or at rachel.bell@crsblaw.com.

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