Marketplace “Border Control” Q&A

You may have heard that Microsoft will soon be preventing Xbox Live users from downloading lincensed content from countries they do not live in (i.e. People from the UK downloading content from the US). This will come into force in the new dashboard update, which is due sometime this week.

AceyBongos caught up with Michael Newey, Group Product Marketing Manager for Xbox Europe, to talk about how this will affect you:

Q: First of all – why is Xbox doing this?

Michael Newey: The issue here is that when we add new gaming and entertainment content to Xbox LIVE we sign a contract with the content provider. In that contract it tells us which country or countries the content is licensed in. It then becomes a legal requirement for us to ensure that the content is only available for to people in the countries in which it is licensed. If we don’t do this it makes it really difficult for us to get new content providers to put content on Xbox Live, which in turn means Xbox Live members don’t get the content they want. A good example is the TV and movie content available on Video Marketplace in the US. This content is not available in other countries because it is not licensed for them. However, we know that some Xbox Live members who live outside of the US have been signing up for a US Xbox Live account so they can access this content. When they do, it means Xbox is breaking its contractual agreement with the content provider, so we have to stop this.

Q: Some of these Xbox Live users are just keen to get cool content that is not available in the country where they live. Why are we stopping them from doing that?

Michael Newey: We understand that, but unfortunately we are legally required to ensure that all content on Xbox Live is only available for download in the country in which it is licensed. If we don’t we may not be able to continue providing quality content. We’re not trying to stop people getting the content they want – we’re trying to ensure that we can continue to provide great content on Xbox Live, and bring that content to other countries in the future. I should also point out that licensing agreements like this are standard practice in the entertainment industry.

Q: So when will Xbox Live members in Europe get the chance to download the kind of cool content that is, for example, available to US Xbox Live members on Video Marketplace?

Michael Newey: At the moment we have made no announcements about Xbox Live Video Marketplace for Europe. However, Europe is very important for us, and we will be making announcements in the future. Stay tuned…

Q: We know that some Xbox Live members have been downloading licensed Xbox Live content from countries different from where they live. What will happen to that content?

Michael Newey: If you’ve downloaded content using an Xbox Live account from outside your own country and that content is stored on your hard drive or a memory unit, you will keep that content. The important point is that you will not be able to download any more licensed content using that account in the future.

Q: What happens if a user tries to re-download licensed content they’ve purchased in the past using an Xbox Live account outside of their country?

Michael Newey: They will not be able to. From the launch of the Spring Update onwards we have to make sure that users cannot download any content that is not licensed in the country in which the console resides, even if they have downloaded it in the past.

Q: So what happens if I have an Xbox Live account registered in a country other than where I live? Will it get shut down?

Michael Newey: Your account won’t get shut down. If you have created an account for a region other than where you and your Xbox Live, the account will still be active. However, you will no longer be able to download Xbox Live content licensed only for that country.

Q: How will Xbox know when an Xbox in a different country is trying to download content that is not licensed in that country?

Michael Newey: We will know from the location of the Xbox. It’s important to note that it is the location of the console itself in conjunction with your Xbox Live account that will dictate which content you can download. Therefore if you have a US Xbox Live account and live in the US, but take your console on holiday to Europe, while you are in Europe you will not be able to download content from the US Xbox Live Marketplace. But, conversely, if you have a UK Xbox Live account and take your Xbox to the US, you will not be able to download content from the US Xbox Live.

Q: What if I live in a country like Greece that does not have Xbox Live, but I have an Xbox Live account registered to another country?

Michael Newey: While we do not advise or condone this since a user who does this is technically breaking a contractual agreement, users with this type of account will still be able to use it. However, they will not be able to download licensed content from Xbox Live Marketplace.

Q: What does this have to do with games that are not available on Xbox Live Marketplace in Germany, like DOOM?

Michael Newey: Nothing. The German government has restrictions which regulate the distribution of certain content in Germany. We take these regulations very seriously indeed, and therefore certain content will not be available for download in Germany.

Originally Written By: Scott Webber


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