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Austrias problem with new technology

Cut price iPad-rival the Kindle fire still not on sale in Austria

When it comes to the latest technology, Austrians are often left behind. For instance, Amazon launched its new "Kindle Fire HD" tablet last year. German customers were able to pre-order the tablet, whilst customers in Austria can still only order the old black-and-white version.

This is not the only example. The search engine Google started offering films in Germany through its Google Playstore. This was the first step towards the new "Google TV" service where you can surf the Internet, watch films etc. on your television by using an external device.

Google plans to integrate this feature into future televisions. However, as with the new Amazon Kindle, customers in Austria must also show a little patience, as this service is not currently available to them.

This is due to a complicated licence agreement for films and music. There is no consistent licence system in Europe, which is very different to the USA. Currently, Hollywood Studios must assign each European country with its own licence, and the prices also differ.

International companies such as Amazon prioritise the larger European countries. Small countries such as Austria have little importance for them and in the past, it took a relatively long time until such offers were also available in Austria. An exception is Apple, where Austrians can already watch films in the iTunes Store.

The EU has long considered creating a uniform licence system. However, the authorities have faced resistance from the film industry.

Thomas Hoehne, the media law expert from the law firm "Hoehne, in der Maur und Partner" stated in "Die Presse" that he does not believe that anything will change soon. Any attempt by Brussels to create a pan-European licence would be a huge intrusion into the rights of the film industry.

International companies such as Amazon and Google would be the first to profit from a pan-European licence.

In addition, there are also small providers such as UPC who only operate in some European countries like Austria. UPC has its own licence department in London, which deals with contracts with all the important film studios. Subsequently, country agreements are concluded, which are specifically tailored for the various UPC markets.

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