The scuttlebutt in Washington, DC is that newly-appointed FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski will talk at the Brookings Institute on Monday, Sept. 21 about the FCC's plan introduce new Net Neutrality rules. (The kids still say scuttlebutt, right?) It probably goes without saying that this is a huge deal for supporters of the open internet, FMC among them.
Amy Schatz at the Wall Street Journal is among the first to report the story. Her article also serves as a good overview of Net Neutrality in general -- how it grew out of the original regulations for phone lines (phone companies were prohibited from giving any phone call preference in how quickly it was connected) and became a point of contention for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) seeking to charge content providers higher fees for the faster delivery of their sites and services.
FMC has long contended that a "tiered web" with fast lanes and slow lanes would be devastating for the music community -- particularly independent artists and labels who depend on open internet strutures to compete in the marketplace alongside the best funded companies. We launched the Rock the Net campaign in 2007 (with founding acts Pearl Jam, R.E.M., Kronos Quartet, OK Go and more) to demonstrate the music community's support of Net Neutrality.
Over the years, there's been several bills introduced in Congress that would make Net Neutrality the law of the land -- most recently by Representatives Ed Markey (D-MA) and Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA) in July 2009. To date, no NN legislation has made it to the President's desk. Yet with a new FCC led by a pro-innovation Chairman, many "defenders of the net" have been hopeful that meaningful net neutrality provisions would eventually materialize. With this announcement from Genachowski, it looks like it's gonna happen.
The FCC has also been very focused of late on expanding broadband internet service to more Americans. We were honored to participate in the Commission's recent Broadband Workshop on the role of content online, where FMC Policy Director Michael Bracy and composer Alex Shapiro each made compelling cases for making affordable, high-quality broadband available to artists, entrepreneurs and the public. They also stressed the importance of ensuring that Net Neutrality is part of the national broadband plan. Otherwise, we might not see the innovation and artist-powered creativity that's key to a legitimate digital music marketplace.
We're also heartened to hear that Net Neutrality principles may also extend to the wireless space. As music is increasingly accessed via smartphone applications (like the Pandora or Spotify iPhone apps), it's key that these platforms be accessible to musicians and consumers regardless of device or carrier.
Finally, we're downright thrilled that Chariman Genachowski will be delivering a keynote address at the 2009 Future of Music Policy Summit. The can't-miss conference -- which also features Senator Al Franken, Mike Mills of R.E.M., Brian Message of Radiohead's management team, Daniel Ek of Spotify and many, many more -- takes place at Georgetown University from October 4-6. Reserve your spot now!
If you need more convincing (we find this hard to entertain, but we can run with it), check out the Top Ten Reasons to Attend the Future of Music Policy Summit.