back to article Lonely Pirate cheers on Big Copyright-bashing EU commissars

The EU's sole Pirate Party MEP has welcomed rumours that the European Commission is to get tough with big Hollywood firms’ geo-blocking activities. According to a Bloomberg report the EU's competition chief, Margrethe Vestager, is set to send a so-called “statement of objections” to US movie studios 20th Century Fox, Warner …

  1. Michael Habel Silver badge

    I for One welcome this... Assuming the likes of freesat had to eventually re-broaden their Beam to what it was pre-2009 I might have to go and, dig out my Dish again! This kind of inter-region locking. Of which the Austrians, and to a lesser extent the Swiss who consume all the open German Channels over 19.2°E won't be arsed into sharing their stuff back with Germany, which is the BIGGEST BS!

    I guess since you lot are to wise to get in on the Euro Scam.... (Good on you!), Murdock might have an, argument on BSkyB being as locked up as that... But, where the Euro has taken over... And, such crappy in-built limitations of Astra 2 E/F doesn't exist. I should be able to subscribe to any other Provider I'd wish to, from with-in the E.U., which technically includes BSkyB.

    Hell I've stated that I'd also be willing to actually pay the fright on the BBC License from my location to be able to watch it too. So its not even like I'm looking for a free ride. But, Once you lot can cover Europe al-la the German License Fee Channels then you can talk.

    Though I gather this is slowly more about the Third-rate leftovers the likes of Germany gets fed from the likes of Amazon, and Netflix. as opposed to say the USoA. Another example of this would be the S0NY Playstation Store. The German Store front... Is just about what you'd call usable. The US Version, still supports the PSP! FOR CRYING OUT LOUD! Not to mention. Also has way better deals there.

    I really wish Geo-locking would just die at times!

    1. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

      I agree with you about direct media sales - the idea that a piece of music or movie can be purchased in physical form from anywhere in the EU, but not as a download, is stupid beyond belief. Also, if programme delivery is carried out over the internet, it should be possible to pay for any service, regardless of origin, because the delivery method allows accurate accounting for users.

      However, I have to disagree with you about broadcasting. The Austrian/Swiss TV situation with Germany is the same one that Ireland faces with respect to the United Kingdom: the small country's player cannot go free-to-air, because doing so would put it at a major commercial disadvantage.

      [Apologies for the long post that follows, but it's not a simple situation]

      If you are bidding for the right to show a movie or sporting event, the price you can afford to pay is determined by the number of people who could see it, not the number of people who do see it (you can't calculate the latter with any accuracy, but the former is easily established). If, for example, ÖRF wants to show the World Cup, then it has a market of 8.5 million Austrians to pay the cost of that purchase, and the rates it pays reflect that audience size. However, if ARD bids to show the same event, its broadcasts will address 80 million Germans, and so it must pay more. The cost-per-potential-viewer is roughly the same, though.

      In a free-to-air situation, however, both broadcasters are forced to bid for the right to address an audience of around 90 million German-speakers across Europe. That's fine for ARD, as it's only about 10% more that it already pays, but for the Austrian broadcaster, any such deal would be far beyond its means.

      Even when weighted for penetration rates, the smaller broadcaster would see its costs at least double, for no real benefit to the audience that pays for the service (in this example, the residents of Austria). The only way to recoup such additional costs would be to aim their programming away from their domestic audience, and towards the larger market.

      But take Switzerland. I can't imagine many Swiss would be impressed if their German-language services adopted Standard German for all their programming simply because a pan-european distribution with no opt-out forced it to compete for viewers in the Bundesrepublik, to whom Swiss German is unintelligible.

      There is a point where the disparity works in your favour, and the classic example is Luxembourg, whose "national" broadcaster, RTL, is a de-facto commercial competitor to German and French stations, with revenues earned from overspill being used to support local programming, but this is only possible when your own domestic population is so minuscule that a "national" service would never be viable.

      Incidentally, the small-footprint Astra services you complain about exist for very sound technical reasons. They are there only to allow greater capacity by taking account of existing language distributions in Europe, not to geo-block content. There is no narrow-beam service that only covers one country, but if you look at the languages spoken in the countries under each narrow-beam footprint, you'll see the real rationale. There is a limited bandwidth available for direct-to-home services, so the use of these localised beams allows that bandwidth to be allocated according to the needs to the market. If all beams were pan-European, then there would be fewer services available overall, because there would be no possibility for frequency re-use, and the costs of broadcast would be higher.

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        The same situation applies in the UK & Ireland. For the BBC to add the rights of 3m or so Irish househoulds to the cost of buying a programme is peanuts, not so for RTE to add the cost of 28m UK households. hence the BBC is freely viewable across Ireland, but RTE is not viewable in GB.

        The BBC also makes lots of money via the BBC Worldwide arm by selling popluar programmes to other broadcasters. If viewers in those countries could watch it directly that revenue stream would take a hit.

        It's a far from simple situation. Inconvenient though it may seem to be, any change, at least as far as direct broadcasting is concerned, could lead to substantial price rises.

    2. Michael Habel Silver badge

      I really wish Geo-locking would just die at times!

      Whoops I obviously wasn't thinking of the children VPN Service Providers when I wrote that. Oh the scores of unemployed Sysadmins...

  2. The BigYin

    It's pretty obvious

    The harder you make it for people to use legal services, the more they look elsewhere.

    Here is my money. I *want* to give you my money. Why won't you let me?

    1. Christian Berger Silver badge

      Re: It's pretty obvious

      "Here is my money. I *want* to give you my money. Why won't you let me?"

      That would make some pay tv providers have serious problems. Why should I, for example, get German Sky, when I could also get UK Sky?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It's pretty obvious

        You mean why should anyone in the UK be able to sign up for a SKY package from sky germany? I don't know if they would need a german address to do that, but if a german person has a german sky sub then he or she should surely be able to watch the bundesliga no matter where they travel around with their german sky box? thats at least how I understood this...

        Wether Sky Germany decides that you need an address in germany to have an account with them would be another matter...

      2. K Silver badge

        Re: It's pretty obvious

        I can sum that up in 2 words: Free Trade

        There is also the competition aspect, why should you pay more when the content is available elsewhere for cheaper.

        1. The BigYin

          Re: It's pretty obvious

          "There is also the competition aspect, why should you pay more when the content is available elsewhere for cheaper."

          That's true of everything, but the companies want one-way free trade. i.e. they can sell everywhere, but you can only buy where the company decides.

          Which isn't free trade at all.

          1. K Silver badge

            Re: It's pretty obvious

            I wasn't backing Sky's position geo-blocking, but rather offering why a customer should be free to sign up for any deal they want..

      3. Tom Chiverton 1

        Re: It's pretty obvious

        So ? Sky (still) get your money, you get (I assume) a better mix of programming for you.

        Win win.

        1. The BigYin

          Re: It's pretty obvious

          "Sky (still) get your money, you get (I assume) a better mix of programming for you."

          Company sells package A in country 1 for X. Company also sells package A in country 2 for Y. X is 2Y. The company wants to sell as many at price X as possible because there is more profit.

          Geo-locks are one tool that lets them do this. So the company will get upset if that is removed. Under TTIP they would probably sue the countries involved (and win).

          It seems that "free trade" only applies to the seller, not the purchaser.

          1. Michael Habel Silver badge

            Re: It's pretty obvious

            Company sells package A in country 1 for X. Company also sells package A in country 2 for Y. X is 2Y. The company wants to sell as many at price X as possible because there is more profit.

            If by Company you meant S0NY... And, by package you meant PlayStation Network then yes. Makes me wonder if there is even a worse PSN then Germany... Seems unlikely as hell though. Since you still can't even directly hang a PayPal Account on it, like you can with the US Version.

            I think I might have mentioned that the German PSN also removed all PSP (GO) Content from their Store too! Yeah you can still presumably download stuff you already have. But, forget about finding any new-er stuff. IT DOES NOT EXIST. Likewise PSN on the PSP still works on the US PSN... for now. It almost makes me happy I never got a Go. But, I foresee the PS3 and, Vita going in that direction here too for long.

            If the Pirate Party (Germany)... Were more about this... And less about their stupid Drug Policies... I might still have given a fork about 'em... As it is I'll be voting for the AfD in the next election. Which is a dammed shame. 'cause this is exactly where the Pirate Party need to be! That and, perhaps pushing hard to end all TV Licensing. Barring that.. The removal of all Ads form the ARD & ZDF, when they know the have an audience. ex: News time. I can not begin to describe how that p!sses me off! Either loose the license fees, or go commercial!

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Michael Habel Silver badge

      Re: It's pretty obvious

      Here is my money. I *want* to give you my money. Why won't you let me?

      And don't treat me like some 3'ed World'er with your third-rate leftovers that aren't worth the price of admission! *cough* Amazon Prime Video *cough*

      Actually on that rather delightful topic of Amazon Prime... For Zarking sake please write a decent single purpose Android App! Really install this... To then install that, to get the so-called "Prime Video" App to work... Is the biggest fail I ever had the misfortune to encounter... I almost could deal with the crappy German Leftovers... But this was the major deal breaker for me!

      That would make some pay tv providers have serious problems. Why should I, for example, get German Sky, when I could also get UK Sky?

      Depends on what I wanted... In this case Movies, and TV in English. The People who generally want Sky Germany are more interested in Football. Besides its called ~competition~ Something that desperately need to happen in the field of Cable TV... And, not just on this side of the pond either! If anything that needs to happen in the US first!

  3. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Ah, I see it now. Geolocking isn't to protect the little guy from Big Bad Hollywood. It all makes sense now.

    Wait, what?

  4. ratfox Silver badge
    Go

    Clap clap

    Go Vestager!

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    GEO blocking

    ...is a tough measure to defend until you examine the whole distro system and the unscrupulous purveyors of black market goods. If GEO blocking is eliminated, all will pay a higher price to compensate for black market goods so don't think things will improve, because they won't.

    1. Michael Habel Silver badge

      Re: GEO blocking

      The BigYin - The harder you make it for people to use legal services, the more they look elsewhere.

      It's hard to compete with free... And, the last time I checked the Kodi was largely on the whole free. Yeah you have some pretentious arseholes who're out to scam you I'm thinking of this Repository called of all things the Yid... Yeah moving on...

      Again the point stands... Why should I pay for something as bad as Amazon Prime, when every other Kodi add-on does it better, quicker, faster, and with less hassle then I'd get from the Providers themselves?

      Someone pointed out that Prime was for shipping, and the VOD Service was just a nice touch.. So I might be guilty of being assacwords here. looking for a decent VOD first and free shipping as needed... If ever?!

      That said, the sad part is, with some of the less... Or, is it more questionable? Add-ons like say USTV Now. I can access first run Shows, and Sporting Events nearly in real time! Then if its so early in the morning 03:00 ~ 05:00 I can just fire up some other Add-on called Genesis, and said Broadcast will usually be there, with-in mere hours after the broadcast.

      Is it right? Is it fair... No, probably not... But, then show me a better way were everyone wins? You can't 'cause you'd need to have a US Bank Account, and a VPN to access it then. And I'm hearing all kinds of stink about how the like of Netflix, are taking a rather dim view of those trying to hop over their Walls... So no that's not an acceptable answer either.

      Its about the difference of an item, the EXACT SAME ITEM costing ~$5.00(USD) on the US PSN or more like 29.00€(EUR).. For the exact same Game. Region Locks are only here to ***k us over!

  6. Gannettt

    Why have I got this image in my head of a boardroom somewhere in Corporate america, with a load of fat-cats in suits laughing as they toss a copy of the letter of objection into the wastepaper basket? Thier well-paid lawyers will appeal and keep this one rumbling on until everyone has forgotten about what it was all about, then carry on as normal.

    It's a shame that content has to go through these greedy shysters before it gets to your telly.

    I'm sure, when they first heard about the Pirate Party's sould representative, many people thought they would be fighting for the pirates, when really, I think they seem to be a restraining influence, advocating sensible and fair copyright laws which would lead to less pirating.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Fair copyright laws"

      If people don't get paid, and good stuff doesn't get made, all you'll get is BGT and cat videos.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't want to pay for any of the european or middle east satellites?

    Just set up or buy a cccam line, a couple of sat cards and dvblink (or Dreambox), watch it where when and on what you want.

    What's that people say? I'm taking money from companies?

    Also not, I pay a lot of money for a season ticket for my teams sport, I also subscribe to sky, I just bend the rules a little with sharing my own paid for card with myself and I might invest in a 1.2m dish soon because I like to see other opinions rather than the media we get in the uk.

    I also download films and tv, shoot me, I'm just watching them now rather than when I'm told to.

    Geo-locking - I can understand both sides of the argument but to be fair all I'm seeing is media companies out for money and not for the benefit of people that have no problem paying for said services.

  8. Matt Siddall

    DVDs

    They could start with outlawing region locking on DVDs.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Meh

    Watching the big home screen

    The problem is that unless you have a particular interst (footy, Downton / corrie etc) most of the content is not that good. Myself I used Sky for years and well as the various freesat/view/vue and got sucked into Prime, but gradually I have divested myself of all that - why? not really the cost but I have just lost interest as I have other things to do.

    Geo-free crap or Geo-blocked crap is still crap. is all the same so wake up stop watching and do something.

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