Microsoft will be tightening territorial content controls on the Xbox Live Marketplace service with its upcoming Spring Update, which could result in the drastic reduction of video content available to non-US subscribers.
While the Xbox Live Marketplace offers a wide range of video content to its American subscribers, Xbox owners in other parts of the world often face a greatly-reduced selection of movies and television shows, due to issues such as licensing rights and acceptable content laws in other countries. In the past, Xbox Live customers have been able to circumvent these restrictions by creating a US-based account, but the new restrictions will eliminate this option. Available content will now be based strictly on a customer’s geographical location.
A Microsoft representative has stated that while the company endeavors to get global rights to video content, in many cases it is simply not possible. In those situations, Microsoft has a legal obligation as a digital content distributor to follow licensing regulations and the laws of individual nations.
Customer feedback to this announcement has been almost universally negative, with many questioning why the restricted content is available via other online services such as Apple’s. Robin Burrowes, Xbox Live product manager for the UK and Ireland, has said that the Video Marketplace will be launched in Europe this year, but no details have been forthcoming.