Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2009 (H.R. 3458), which would protect the the web we use everyday by making it unlawful for an Internet Service Provider (ISP) to "block, interfere with, discriminate against, impair, or degrade the ability of any person to use an Internet access service to access, use, send, post, receive, or offer any lawful content, application, or service through the Internet."
The bill would also make the FCC the agency responsible for enforcing these rules, while establishing a consumer complaint system for the public to alert the Commission to possible violations. The legislation, which has been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, contains language that recognizes the increasing role the internet plays in communications, commerce and innovation.
"The Internet is an essential infrastructure that is comparable to roads and electricity in its support for a diverse array of economic, social, and political activity," the legislation states. "The national economy would be severely harmed if the ability of Internet content, service, and application providers to reach consumers was frustrated by interference from broadband telecommunications network operators," it continues.
FMC supports efforts to prevent network operators from charging content providers a fee for the faster delivery of their sites and services. In 2007, we established the Rock the Net campaign to raise awareness about this issue and how it impacts musicians.
We believe that net neutrality is crucial because it lets independent artists and labels compete on an equal technological playing field with the biggest companies. Imagine logging on to your favorite band's website, only to have it take forever to load on your computer because they couldn't to afford (or didn't want to) pay a toll to their ISP. All artists deserve the right to use the internet to cultivate listeners, and fans deserve to make their own choices of how and where to access legitimate content.
The campaign has also been instrumental in demonstrating to policymakers the importance of preserving net neutrality structures, with bands like OK Go visiting Capitol Hill to testify before key decisionmakers about how the open internet benefits artists like themselves. The compilation album, Rock the Net: Musicians for Net Neutrality was released on Thirsty Ear Recordings in July 2008, and features Bright Eyes, Wilco, Aimee Mann, Guster, They Might Be Giants, The Wrens and more. The album is available at quality record stores and online retailers such as iTunes, Amazon, the Amazon MP3 store and eMusic.
Net neutrality supporters have made major inroads in the last few years, and it's clear that the new administration and FCC understand the issue and are committed to making it a priority. That said, there is still powerful opposition from the bigger telecommunications and cable companies, particularly now that there's an effort to expand broadband services to more American communities. As we as we work to increase access to crucial information technologies, we must ensure that the internet continues to provide a platform for access, innovation and participation.
FMC stands by our commitment to a legitimate digital music marketplace that rewards both artists and fans. And you can be sure that wherever important debates about our networked future take place, we'll be there advocating for musicians of every variety.