Geo-Blocking is Going to be Banned in EU…But Wait! You Still Can’t Download the Foreign Songs You Like

Blerim Berisha, Yang Cao, Jan Kalina, Ikram Mallou, Thomaz Novaes, Ronald Piwele, Yin Zi

When consumers in EU countries are shouting hooray for EU’s anti-geoblocking regulation finally being passed by European Parliament earlier this year, German MEP Julia Reda undiplomatically expressed her disappointment.


Reda is right. Geo-blocking banishment is working for e-commerce but not for access to other media. EU’s first “baby step” as she called is a great news for online shoppers to buy some goods, such as a refrigerator, some services, or for website hosting services. European consumers will enjoy a price with no difference no matter which EU member state they reside in. But if you are talking about Spotify, Netflix and TV, or any other copyrighted content like music, ebooks, and video games, sorry, the “wall” is still there. This is indeed a big bummer, and we all hate that error message telling us we are in the “wrong” country.

So, what are the main obstacles to tackle for realizing a truly no-barrier digital single market? Is it true that no one is willing to fight against powerful entertainment industry, as Reda claimed? At least EU is aware of the needs of consumers to break the “wall”, addressed that they will extend the geoblocking on copyrighted services in two years. But that sounds a bit long stretch.


While a seamless cross-border access to popular streaming media services sound like a perfect dream to EU digital content consumers, there are indeed some substantial challenges the industry faces in order to reach such a goal. Most of online copyrighted contents in the European market are licensed on a national basis. For many digital content providers, the main reason of geoblocking is due to the expensive cost of buying copyrights covering extra geographic areas. This is even more common for smaller operators. Thus, one argument is that lifting geoblocking might bring unintended consequences to the industry and the market. The industry might suffer significant losses of revenues which will prompt uncertainty for the future, as nobody knows how long it would take for the industry to adapt to this new unrestricted cross-border access. Another concern is it might induce price arbitrage between country markets, which puts pressure on sellers to reduce price differentiation and push some prices up, others down. The price response of sellers is hard to predict and may have repercussions not only on downstream consumers but also on upstream parts of the supply chain.

Cultural diversity is considered as a strong incentive for lifting the digital content geo-blocking, because surveys indicate that one key reason people demand foreign digital content is they could not get it from the country they live in. There are about 20 million EU citizens who were born in one EU member state and live in another member state. Without geo-blocking, many of them could enjoy contents produced and licensed in their home countries. However, studies also show that the longer long-term intra-EU immigrants stay away from their country of origin, the less interest they have to buy audiovisual content of their home country. This is an important measurement for audiovisual business operators. One more concern on the unrestricted cross-border content is that there might be less investment in local production which leads to less diversity. EU citizens from the poorer countries will have to pay higher prices if they want to enjoy good quality content.

So, it seems that Mr. Ansip’s ambition will take quite some time to fulfill. But the future could be hopeful. The good news is that at least EU residents can watch streaming content they have bought in their home country while traveling in EU area, thanks to the new law. Even MEP Reda agreed that copyright is a delicate issue.  European Parliament’s economic assessment on geo-blocking prohibition shows that there will be notable economic and social welfare gains by lifting geo-blocking on audiovisual and copyrighted services, despite the risks and concerns. It will depend on the negotiation and cooperation between the public sector, the industry and society.



The statistics, evidences and study results used in this article are based on the analysis Extending the Scope of the Geo-Blocking Prohibition: An Economic Assessment published by European Parliament in 2017. (could put hyperlink:

Is Staying in your Filter Bubble what you really want?

Andrea Ruiz Valencia, Nele Pärje, Maxime Paquin, Jija Bhattacharya, Alice Masoni, Christos Kampolis

The Digital Single Market (DSM) Strategy aims to overcome the fragmentation of the European market and merge 28 markets into a single digital economy. To prepare the digital grounds for the DSM to flourish, several obstacles need to be tackled, one of which revolves around the personalization of the Internet. There is a disturbing phenomenon in the way online platforms operate today, notably the way algorithms predict and select content we want to consume.

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GDPR: Societal Retribution

Merve Bektas, Yasmim Pessoa, Kaia Socha, Laura Basiacco, Justyna Zawada, Artaban Micali Drossos

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We have all undoubtedly seen this request pop up in front of our faces as we navigate literally every website we decide to surf. Let’s be honest, how many of us even know to what exactly we are agreeing to? Yet every day we put our trust in the hands of companies without knowing the specifics of their terms and conditions. The willingness to login quickly, to buy a distinct product, or book an Airbnb overpowers the one of reading the 20 pages dedicated to those terms.


Can someone blame us for not wanting to read those tedious conditions?

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Social Media as a Promising Arena for Public Debate

Dimitra Kagioglou, Dinesh George Lourdes, Evgeniya Kreslova, Maria Oliva, Nele Mirjam Werner, Siyu Xu

Once upon a time, the political debates were provided to the public through media reporting. Now within a minute we are able to get informed instantly via social media. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube are a new communication field being used by the EU Institutions to communicate with the audiences and particularly with young citizens.

Could this imply that we are in front of an alternative public sphere shaped by social media, that can rouse young citizens to engage in the EU debate? Well, potentially.


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Do You Want to Change the World?Lobbying Might Help You, And Technology Also.

Anna Claudia Pinheiro Gomes, Elisar Khattab, Kristyna Robova, Tzuhan Yu

Forget the suit and the money. Grab your online toolbox and become a citizen lobbyist!

What is the impact of your daily actions on society? Perhaps you always wanted to make a difference in the world, but never knew how to channel this desire.  On a TEDx, Alberto Alemanno, Professor of EU Law at HEC Paris, said that we usually think of only two ways to make progress in society. The first one is to vote. The second, to run for office. One seems to little, the other might be too much. But what if there was a third option?

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AI on the Driving Seat?

New ethical and legal questions when it comes to self-driving cars

Hui Ding, Guanwen Li, Ana Pop Stefanija, Mattia Trino,  Natalie Walow, Manlin Zhu

Does AI need an introduction?

Year 2018. With the latest advancement of artificial intelligence and its increased usage in vast areas of societal life, the chances you asked yourself at least once “Will robots take over our jobs?”, “Who will be responsible for the self-driving cars if something bad happens?” are big.

Today, one of the most quoted examples is the development of autonomous vehicles, which could bring positive changes to traffic management, security and urban development, but also rise complex legal issues and ethical dilemmas. When talking about it, the first question we should keep in mind is “who is accountable when a self-driving car causes an accident?”. Meanwhile, try to think about Asimov’s first law: “A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm”. Thus, how come that a robot built according to Asimov’s laws could cause an accident? Practice says, it already happens, unfortunately. Furthermore, in an algorithmically unforeseen situation, who would the car hit: the kid crossing the street, the old person at the sidewalk, or will it crash against a wall killing the person inside the car? It comes clear, at this point, that we are in front of many AI-related legal and ethical issues and there’s no easy solution.

Self-driving car

 What self-driving cars at an intersection would look like

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Machine Morality: Where Robotics Meets Ethical Behavior Standards

Deborah Kakolobango, Viktorija Ulickaite, Isabell Schwanke, Sergejs Mikaeljans, Itsaso Goikoetxea Mallea, Xu Huiqin

The breakthrough of digital technology and 4th Industrial Revolution have already affected almost all industries and economies in the world. Global interest in artificial intelligence (AI) technologies shows its potential to transform the way people live. Self-driving cars, intelligent home assistants, smartphones and precise medical predictions are only the first steps of AI use in industry, whereas its potential in many more industries are growing rapidly. In the past decade, tech companies, including Facebook, Google and Amazon not only invested large amount of money in artificial intelligence, but also opened research labs to deal with its future development and growing threats.


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