You’ve probably used the internet several times this holiday season to find that perfect gift for that certain someone on your list. Actually, Santa Claus himself is probably on Etsy right now looking for a handmade nose warmer for Rudolph.
But what does the internet want at this, the most wonderful time of the year?
Let’s start with clear and enforceable rules tor preserve the web as a platform for creativity, commerce and free expression.
FMC has long advocated for rules that would let musicians reach fans directly and cultivate their careers on their own terms. Our Rock the Net campaign includes thousands of artists and independent labels who understand that the open internet is crucial to today’s music ecosystem. Artists such as OK Go, R.E.M., Erin McKeown, stic.man of Dead Prez, Kronos Quartet and more have weighed in on the issue in the official FCC docket.
Unfortunately, some Internet Service Providers (ISPs) want to charge content providers (like musicians and music entrepreneurs) a fee for the faster delivery of their sites and services. Those who couldn’t afford to — or didn’t want to — pay a toll could get stuck in the slow lane. Worse still, ISPs would be free to block or degrade content from competitors, which would have a negative impact on more than just the music community. Then there’s the problem of having just a handful of giant corporations in the position to decide what constitutes acceptable speech online. For these reasons and more, it is time for the FCC to make good on its promise to keep the internet open and accessible to everyone.
You may have heard that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is planning to vote on an Order to preserve the open internet at its upcoming meeting on December 21. Putting some basic rules in place would ensure that musicians can continue to compete on a level playing field right alongside the biggest companies. So this is a reason for holiday cheer, right?
Don’t pour that glass of eggnog just yet.
Although it’s good that FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski is bringing what has been a somewhat epic proceeding to a conclusion, there are concerns about whether the Order has what it takes to protect the web we know and love. Apart from the Chairman, there are four other Commissioners at the FCC, two of whom — Michael J. Copps and Mignon Clyburn — are working to make the final rule as good as it can be.
Along those lines, here are three things that we think are crucial to achieving meaningful rules to preserve the internet as an engine of innovation, expression and creative commerce.
1. A clear definition of “broadband.” Before we even start describing what is and isn’t acceptible behavior for Internet Service Providers, we need to recognize that the internet is the internet, and broadband is the means by which people access it. No “secret special internet” for the extra-fancy or some less-than accessible version for certain people, places or persuasions.
2. A presumption against paid prioritization. This means that the ISPs would not be allowed to pick favorites on the internet. This is important to preserve the web as a level technological playing field for musicians and other creative entrepreneurs. Although we understand that that some traffic — such as Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) or public safety data — needs to be treated differently, ISPs must not be allowed to favor the content of their preffered business partners over the information that the rest of us send over the web. There should also be a way to evaluate so-called “specialized services” to ensure that they do not negatively impact the utility and characteristics of the actual internet.
3. Open internet principles should apply to mobile. Musicians, music entrepreneurs and fans know that mobile devices like smartphones and tablet computers are becoming a preferred means of accessing music. Paid prioritization or discrimination of sites and services on the wireless internet would put independent artists at a tremendous disadvantage in a still-maturing marketplace. Therefore, it is important that rules to preserve access and innovation apply to mobile broadband.
Will the Internet get its Christmas wish or a lump of coal? We’ll see on December 21. In the meantime, we want to thank each and every musician who has offered their perspectives on this important issue. Your voices continue to make a difference in this debate for the benefit of artists and fans everywhere.