Portability – A question of time

The first copyright proposal of the European Commission is a Regulation to enable temporary access to subscription services from your home country while travelling in Europe.

This is the essence of the Portability Regulation. The Commission decided against (or maybe just postponed) a full on attack on territorial licensing of audiovisual works and went for a very short but focussed 8 article text. The Commission sees a communication win with this one, and rightly so, the Regulation is a gift to consumers, essentially acting as a limitation to authors’ rights. They want to see this adopted quickly. The Dutch Presidency is happy to oblige and is racing through the text pushing it up to top political level (COREPER) already, leaving some countries struggling to keep up, while others try to form coalitions on key sticking points in the limited time available. In the European Parliament however, time is seemingly not of the essence. After spending two months agreeing on which committee should lead on the file (legal affairs and not internal market in the end), the committees involved don’t seem to be following the same Dutch speed. Given that timing seems to be important to the different institutions here, it seems only fitting that one of the key sticking points is time. That is, how long is the “temporary” in “temporary portability”?

The Commission chose to define “temporary” by referring to location only, with no reference to time. Some Member States are happy with that, others less so. SAA certainly doesn’t feel comfortable with this. As the character Papou in SAA Patron, Cédric Klapsich’s Russian Dolls said:

“Be careful, because the temporary, sometimes, can last a long time”

Papou : Fais attention, parce que le temporaire, des fois, ça dure longtemps.

A conversation on what we mean by “temporary” is essential. Are expats who have been away from their country so long that they can’t vote in referendums still only away on a temporary basis?


Maybe we can’t agree on a number of days but a definition of temporary that doesn’t refer to time seems pretty weak for a directly applicable Regulation. JT