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EU Lawmakers Include Spotify and iTunes In Geoblocking Ban (reuters.com) 74

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: European Union lawmakers voted on Tuesday to ban online retailers from treating consumers differently depending on where they live and expanded their proposed law to include music streaming services such as Spotify and Apple's iTunes. Ending so-called geoblocking is a priority for the European Commission as it tries to create a single market for digital services across the 28-nation bloc, but many industries argue that they tailor their prices to specific domestic markets. The proposal, which will apply to e-commerce websites such as Amazon, Zalando and eBay, as well as for services provided in a specific location like car rental, forbids online retailers from automatically re-routing customers to their domestic website without their consent. In a blow for the book publishing and music industries, European Parliament members voted to include copyright-protected content such as music, games, software and e-books in the law. That would mean music streaming services such as Spotify and iTunes would not be able to prevent, for example, a French customer buying a cheaper subscription in Croatia, if they have the required rights.
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EU Lawmakers Include Spotify and iTunes In Geoblocking Ban

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Absent the ability to "adjust" for maximum profit in each region, now an average price is expensive for at least half the countries in the EU.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Or perhaps the real market price will be found? The EU is working being a common market, where it started. Income and opportunities equally paid across the block.
      Imagine Amazon selling a product in California at higher prices just because we manage our economy better than Alabama? People in Alabama should ascribe and work to a better life like a Californian.

      • The EU is working being a common market, where it started.

        That's lovely, and when the economic situation in all EU member states is similar, maybe they'll achieve it. In the meantime, it is far from clear that this is a good thing.

        At least in the sort of context we're talking about here, the "real market price" you mentioned is what someone is prepared to pay for something, no more and no less. Forcing people from areas with very different economic situations to pay the same price just means a lot of things won't be accessible to people from those places that can'

        • by Cryacin ( 657549 )

          At least in the sort of context we're talking about here, the "real market price" you mentioned is what someone is prepared to pay for something, no more and no less.

          When the price of goods divorces entirely from the cost to produce them, the pricing model turns to "extraction". Just you wait until Amazon wins the pricing war...

          • You're talking about a monopoly situation. For works covered by copyright, that already exists in the sense that for any given work the rightsholders can decide to offer it only via certain channels.

            However, unless those works are also essential, the customer still has the option not to buy them at all, and if the price is too high they will choose to spend their money elsewhere.

            Moreover, while individual works may have a monopoly supplier, most creative works will be in competition with other works for pro

            • However, unless those works are also essential

              They are "essential" in the same sense that a college textbook is "essential": a student in a music or film analysis class gets a 0 on his homework unless he buys a copy.

              If you live in an area where all grocery stores play background music, music is also "essential" because a fraction of what you pay for food goes toward licensing background music, and food is essential.

              • I'm not sure we should be dictating commercial restrictions on the supply of all creative content to an entire continent based on the three people in that continent who are studying film or music analysis.

                In any case, lots of people are commenting here as if forcing sales to the entire EU to be at the same price will bring the cheaper prices to the richer nations. It seems far more likely that it will bring the more expensive prices to the poorer nations. Your "background music" licence is exactly the kind

        • by gsslay ( 807818 )
          And how is this different from people who live two streets apart, one rich, the other poor? They are forced to pay the same price. How far apart they live is only relevant if the online retailer uses distance as a means of creating separate market prices. And when they do this, it is done for their benefit, to maximize their profits, not to be fair to poor people. Making this illegal removes the distortion from the market and the genuine, uniform, market price is established. No-one benefits or suffers
          • Sorry, but that just isn't how economics works.

            Firstly, market segmentation is absolutely routine, including by purchaser power. There are countless ways to appeal to people who can afford to spend more, and businesses do this all the time. Have you ever seen a box for a "coupon code" when you ordered something online? That's market segmentation in action. Post coupons to everyone on the poorer street in your example, and now everyone isn't paying the same price.

            Secondly, as someone who actually runs some o

      • Imagine Amazon selling a product in California at higher prices just because we manage our economy better than Alabama? People in Alabama should ascribe and work to a better life like a Californian.

        https://news.slashdot.org/story/17/04/24/2048200/how-online-shopping-makes-suckers-of-us-all [slashdot.org] - charging a constant price all the time, only different between different countries is so 2010, and complaining about it is so 1990.

    • not if the price is set at the lowest that can be found in the EU. if they set it to the highest then yes, and they'll lose most of that market.
    • The price differences are huge across Europe.

      I remember when it was possible to send someone in a car from Denmark to Spain or Portugal to buy hundreds of insulin pens from retail pharmacies, drive back to Denmark, replace the packaging and include danish language documents and still sell them with a comfortable profit to half the retail price in Denmark.

      Of course they made that (parallel import) illegal because it cut into the massive profits reaped in countries where the national health service pay most o

  • Maximize profits (Score:5, Informative)

    by DidgetMaster ( 2739009 ) on Tuesday April 25, 2017 @06:34PM (#54301415) Homepage
    The holy grail for anyone selling anything, is the ability to charge the customer, not based on the value of the product or service, but rather on the customer's ability to pay. In the old days, this was accomplished by creating barriers for the movement of goods and services. A drug company could charge someone in rural Mexico a completely different price for a pill than they could charge someone in New York City because is was very hard for the more affluent customer to realize that it was available elsewhere for cheaper. Some goes for DVDs, books, software, and just about everything else. Now with the internet, anyone can order just about anything from anywhere. Those artificial market barriers have been broken down. This threatens the profit margins of many companies.
    • by Baron_Yam ( 643147 ) on Tuesday April 25, 2017 @07:31PM (#54301663)

      I have to admit, the first time I ordered something direct from China I was a bit worried I'd never see a product and the bank would call me about fraudulent activity on my card.

      No such worries now. When I'm getting the same product (literally) direct from the factory in China instead of having it go through a local retailer, I pay less than 1/3 the price. Not even Wal-Mart seems able to compete, given the last price comparison I did had them demanding 5x what an AliExpress vendor was selling a comparable product for.

      Canada lost some wealth and China gained some, and in the meantime I get to live as if I were a bit wealthier than I am.

      Lowering trade barriers globally allows the common consumer some of the same freedom the 1% have had to themselves until now - purchasing what they want from where they want and screw national borders.

      In the long run, this will result in equalization of standard of living around the globe - so long as we have the same social support systems and the same expectations of our local governments. But with wealth will come education and power, at least to some degree, and we'll see social standards equalize as well. Since we're all human, I don't really have a problem with leveling the playing field, so long as it happens slowly enough it doesn't disrupt my life on noticeable timescales.

      • by slew ( 2918 )

        Since we're all human, I don't really have a problem with leveling the playing field, so long as it happens slowly enough it doesn't disrupt my life on noticeable timescales.

        History has shown that disruptions like this occur on noticeable timescales.

        In North America in the 1980's, the Japanese car disruption happened on a very short timescale and directly displaced 185,000 automotive jobs between June 1981 and November 1982 (not counting the indirect jobs lost because of the economic multiplier effect) before things began to stabilize. A voluntary trade restraint was negotiated between Japan and the US and of course Japan started manufacturing of cars in North America which co

        • by Baron_Yam ( 643147 ) on Tuesday April 25, 2017 @08:18PM (#54301897)

          If I'm going to spend extra just to keep money in the country, I'd rather it be taxed from me and redistributed as welfare rather than charged as a premium on products handled by a make-work project.

          With welfare you're not enriching the already-rich at the top of the corporate structure, so you're giving much more efficiently to the people who need it.

          • by Xenx ( 2211586 )
            The problem is, this goes against the capitalist nature of the country. A lot of people assume that welfare systems will be abused. They'd rather pay more knowing the money is going to working people, than people that hypothetically are abusing the welfare system.
            • >The problem is, this goes against the capitalist nature of the country.

              Yours, probably. Mine, mostly. We're already moderately socialist.

              > A lot of people assume that welfare systems will be abused.

              Oh, that's not an assumption, it's damn near a law of Nature.

              > They'd rather pay more knowing the money is going to working people, than people that hypothetically are abusing the welfare system.

              Which is a foolish attitude. You know abuse will happen, you put in some checks and balances and aim for

          • by slew ( 2918 )

            If I'm going to spend extra just to keep money in the country, I'd rather it be taxed from me and redistributed as welfare rather than charged as a premium on products handled by a make-work project.

            With welfare you're not enriching the already-rich at the top of the corporate structure, so you're giving much more efficiently to the people who need it.

            That's an argument for a high-tariff structure (aka protectionist) economy. Basically raise the price of products so you no longer have an incentive to buy imports unless they aren't available locally. If you are fine with that type of economy, that's another way to go... Seems like we are headed that direction as countries are abandoning free trade agreements recently...

        • by boa ( 96754 )

          "In North America in the 1980's, the Japanese car disruption happened on a very short timescale and directly displaced 185,000 automotive jobs between June 1981 and November 1982 "

          Source, please?

      • Re:Maximize profits (Score:4, Interesting)

        by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojoNO@SPAMworld3.net> on Wednesday April 26, 2017 @02:46AM (#54303449) Homepage Journal

        Cheap products from China has worked well in Japan. The "one price" shops (like dollar stores) are really good quality. The Japanese companies compete by innovating like crazy in every area. Better quality, new styles, better service, new features, new brands, new ideas. It's exciting.

        That's what we need to do. Forget protectionism. Compete and win. Distance is still a factor, especially for service and ability to react to local market conditions like fashion.

  • Some countries imposes legal limitations on content.

    By forbidding geo-blocking, content that is legal in other EU countries would suddenly need to be blocked across the EU, to prevent, for example, Germans from seeing/hearing it, because it's illegal in Germany.

    Sounds like a freedom-supporting plan to me! (NOT!)

  • by damnbunni ( 1215350 ) on Tuesday April 25, 2017 @07:23PM (#54301623) Journal

    If digital retailers are not allowed to handle different regions differently:

    Does this mean GOG.com and Steam will be allowed to sell video games with Nazis in them with Germany, or does it mean the German ban on Nazis in media is now effectively EU-wide?

    • It seems unlikely that EU law will prevent a vendor from selling something at all in selective member states if there is a good reason not to. We looked into this issue when the EU VAT mess was the big news a couple of years ago, fearful that some sort of anti-discrimination provisions would say otherwise. The experts made some straightforward arguments that, for example, declining to sell to customers elsewhere in the EU would be OK if the costs of operating the new tax scheme were prohibitive, because tha

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      They have to obey local laws. What has to be the same is pricing. If someone uses their freedom of movement rights to move from one county to another they must be able to take their services with them too, so no region locking between different parts of the EEA.

      In theory a French person could buy a game with Nazis in France and then move to Germany with it. I don't know enough about German law to say what would happen - I suspect nothing as it's selling which is illegal, not ownership.

      • They have to obey local laws. What has to be the same is pricing.

        Then that is bullshit.

        If you want people in your country to have certain content banned, then it is completely reasonable to charge differently in that country.
        This should be a two-way street.

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          It would be hard to evaluate in every case if the country's laws justified differential pricing. And anyway, aside from some fairly specific stuff like this in Germany, the point of the EU is to make the rules the same everywhere so that the cost is near zero.

          I think the prohibition is on selling the content, not owning it, so just not selling it in Germany is an option. But Germany is a big market, 4th largest economy in the world, so it's likely worthwhile for them to make a censored version. That's the d

        • Then that is bullshit.

          Expand on it. There is a good reason some banned content isn't available. Local laws. What is the good reason a streaming service or digital media is priced differently for someone in Bulgaria than France by a company that doesn't have any costs in either market.

          That sounds like bullshit to me.

  • Good (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sexconker ( 1179573 ) on Tuesday April 25, 2017 @08:20PM (#54301907)

    This is what happens when you to to exploit the "global economy". It bites back.

    Why would anyone pay the sucker price when they can walk across the street and get the same exact thing for much less?
    A game, movie, song, etc. isn't worth more based on where it's sold. I'm sick of paying full price for such things while people in Asia and Russia pay pennies on the dollar. (Though I'm glad I'm paying tons more like people in Australia and South America are.) If you can sell the game to millions in China/Russia/etc. for X, I'm going to seek to pay no more than X as well.

    I mean, what's the worst that can happen to me? You region lock your shit? I'll just crack it or use a VPN. You jack up the prices in Russia/wherever? You're not going to jack them up past the US price, so it's still a net win for me.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    but many industries argue that they tailor their prices to specific domestic markets

    They can be free to make that argument when they start tailoring their job openings to those specific domestic markets instead of outsourcing to where-ever is cheapest and importing H1B labor to fill the local gaps that can't be outsourced.

  • I wonder if this will apply to DVD's and region restrictions on movie releases ? What about book prices between the US and Canada/Australia ? I realize none of those are EU entities but it would be really cool to some sort of precedent set.

  • by blackest_k ( 761565 ) on Wednesday April 26, 2017 @04:13AM (#54303649) Homepage Journal

    I live in Ireland and my natural Ebay site is ebay.ie but I can also use ebay.co.uk and presumably other ebay sites as well. The price is the same regardless of site pretty much.
    (You do get venders that sell a product for a price but in different currencies e.g $10 or euro 10) Australian Dollars is almost always cheapest.

    Where there is a big difference is on which Ebay Site you pay for the items on. If I pay on ebay.co.uk then i get buyer protection and a right to return within 14 days while if I buy on ebay.ie I don't. Sometimes that matters.

    Ever since I bought an old macbook which died 3 days after receiving it and getting told by ebay to take it up with paypal who sided with the seller I now use the ebay.co.uk checkout rather than the ebay.ie one (if i had done that with that mac which came from the uk I would have got my money back from the seller).

    It also pays to shop around with amazon too, there is .co.uk .de .es .fr and often there is a price difference between sites for the same item from the same seller and if it's fulfilled by amazon tends to ship from the same warehouse! Generally it's a better move for me to buy from a euro using amazon site than the uk site since the amazon checkout will give me a lousy exchange rate buying in euro's for something priced in sterling. Spain tends to have the best prices, Germany the best stock levels. My German and Spanish language skills pretty much zero but google translate handles that problem.

    The best place to ship from is Germany best priced shipping. Brexit has made a pretty big difference too. UK prices had got pretty poor over the last few years but the devaluing of Sterling now makes buying from the UK pretty competitive. It's kind of like they have an ongoing 20% off sale. Guess better enjoy that while I can because when the actual exit comes. They are likely to get expensive to buy from with Customs adding Duty and VAT...
       

  • In case nobody has noticed: For everything that Apple sells online, the developer choses a "pricing tier", and Apple then picks all the prices for about 150 different countries. However, the price isn't actually picked per country - it is picked _per currency_. So every country charging in Euros will charge the same number of Euros.

    The exception in the EU is the United Kingdom, which is shared in UK pound (which slashdot cannot display properly). But lots of Brits have expressed their strong opinion that
  • That statement is obviously bullshit. It just forbids them from offering a different service (and price) to customers in formerly different markets. You can still have local sites all you want, you just can't charge double just because someone is in Germany or France for instance.

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