Brooke is in San Jose, CA, at a Media Access Project event about the interwebs. We’re both going back out next month for another MAP-sponsored net thingie. Then we’ll swing over to San Fran and bug the boy from Blammos.
Speaking of net neutrality, my org, Future of Music Coalition, is gearing up for the release of a CD to benefit our Rock the Net Campaign. The record comes out on July 29, via our pals at Thirsty Ear Recordings. It’ll be prominently positioned at Coalition of Independent Music Stores shops, so you Pure Pop shoppers have no reason not to pick it up. Artists who kindly donated tracks include:
They Might Be Giants
The Classic Brown
So yeah, it’s a pretty big deal. I’ve been super-busy project managing the release, writing the liner notes, securing the artwork and putting together a neat download card promotion to coincide with the National Conference on Media Reform — which takes place in Minneapolis on June 6-8.
It occurs to me that I haven’t really explained net neutrality here at The Contrarian. At its root, net neutrality is about choice, freedom of expression and access to information. And tubes. A whole series of ’em, even.
Net neutrality ensures that everyone has the same level of access, and can upload and download the legal content of their choice. The Internet grew up with these principles; indeed, they’re its lifeblood. But Big Bad Telecom wants to charge content providers a fee for the faster delivery of their sites, which could cripple innovation, inhibit free speech and move us that much closer to a monoculture where music is all Nickelback all the time and Brawndo is the beverage of choice. Sorta like now, but worse.
This issue is incredibly important for musicians and fans. Imagine going to your favorite band’s website, only to have it take forever to load because they weren’t able to cut a deal with their Internet service provider. Or maybe you’re redirected to a totally different site, where the artist only gets a fraction of the revenue from your purchase.
The internet has made it so entrepreneurs, innovators and artists can do business without unnecessary bottlenecks and gatekeepers. There’s low barrier to entry, and you can reach people around the world. We need to preserve our open access to the most powerful communications tool in history.
I do need to make something clear: all you freetards out there should just get off the net neutrality bus right now. It’s not about protecting your right to steal music. Or video. Or software. You people are jerks, and I don’t like you.
Net neutrality doesn’t prohibit copyright holders exploring ways to prevent piracy. It’s a separate issue — NN is about access, "filtering" is about enforcement. Net neutrality only preserves the public’s access to lawful content, applications and online services, which leaves the door open to discuss strategies to combat illegal filesharing — something the ISPs have every right to do.
What the ISPs wouldn’t be allowed to do is discriminate against legal applications and/or competing services, like Comcast did by delaying BitTorrent traffic. You see, there’s a perfectly legal company called Vuze, that offers audiovisual content using BitTorrent technology. As it happens, they compete with Comcast’s own audiovisual service. Which makes the whole "managing traffic" argument that much flimsier.
Filtering or watermarking, which net neutrality allows, is a whole ‘nother ball of wax.
Of course, many believe that filtering would spark an encryption war with no end. And there’s doubt about how "smart" the pipes need to be to tell the difference between legal and illegal material. These are valid points. But they should not stop us from adopting a set of guidelines that will allow the internet to function as an open platform to all, and not just the big corporations. Or else we’ll be throwing the baby (and American competitiveness, and innovation, and culture) out with the bathwater.
More on this subject later, I’m sure.