Free movement of goods and persons

I have visited the US several times and I always enjoy being there. What I enjoy less is entering the United states.

A hasty last sip of water before tossing the bottle, take off your shoes, your jacket, you belt, laptop out of bag, keys out of pockets, go through the security gate, collect everything, don’t forget anything, did somebody steal my cell phone? All while the poor sods of the TSA are continuously harassing you and yelling at you (oh poor TSA, are we mean to you?)

Moreover, while going through immigration they take your picture and fingerprints, and ask stupid questions like “Why do you need to be on this business trip, can’t you do that by telephone or email?”

In Brazil they also fingerprint visitors, but with a twist: they only fingerprint US citizens. The good-old eye-for-an-eye approach, how satisfying. A US citizen, going through customs in Brazil, noticing the separate line for US citizens, made a big stink about how discriminatory this is.Yes you’re right,they don’t discriminate in the US. They just treat everybody equally badly.

Discrimination irks people. In our society discrimination is really one of the strongest taboos. But unfortunately discrimination laws are only within countries, not between countries.

That’s why it was so upsetting when’s announced that their online streaming radio will be for-pay for all countries except the US, the UK and Germany. I think is a really valuable service, I discovered lots of new music through it, and it’s probably worth paying for. But why do I pay for something that our German neighbors, less than 50 km away, get for free?

You know what, I don’t need I can get my digital music from many places. Let’s see, where else can I get digital music? Oh I know, let’s buy music from the mp3 store, great idea!

Uh oh… mp3 store alert

DVD’s are region locked, and are only available in the US, where does it end?

The root of all this discrimination is of course the opaque and complicated licensing deals that are required by the media industry. If you do not live in a large single market area (apparently everywhere but the US, UK or Germany), licensing deals become so complex that many companies don’t even bother. It’s all that is wrong with living in a permission culture

Of course it has always been like that. But in a connected world where borders are disappearing the contrast is particularly stark.

One of the founding principles of the Eurpean Union is Freedom of movement of goods and persons, that is why the EU was investigating apple for separating the iTunes music store between the UK and the rest of the continent. and Amazon mp3 are clearly violating this principle as well.

I wonder where I can file a complaint?

Tags: , , ,

One Response to “Free movement of goods and persons”

  1. David says:

    There’s a slight difference between the four services you mentioned: iPlayer and Amazon sell services/products, which clearly fall under the free-movement laws you mentioned.
    On the other hand, provides a free service, to which those EU laws may not apply. If they do apply, thoguh, then you could also include BBC’s iPlayer, which is also UK-only.
    I’d encourage you to try complaining to the European Commission, since it might well get us poor sods the services they get back in the UK. The European Commission’s website is and they have it in Dutch as well as English. They respond within a day or two, and usually help you if you’ve contacted the wrong people, as is all too easy with all those links they give!
    Thanks for the post, and good luck if you try contacting the Commission!