If you have been following the recent Google/Verizon moves regarding net neutrality, there's even more wonktastic action this week as an interesting Hollywood showdown is developing. This past Thursday, four major creative guilds and the MPAA submitted a joint reply comment to the Federal Communications Commission.
This show of solidarity is rare as everyone in Hollywood tries to figure out how to deal with massive revenue losses in the face of copyright infringement. The WGAw then issued their own competing statement taking the opposite position.
In the words of Double Rainbow Guy, what does this meeeeeaaann?
The fun started in 2007 when it was learned that Comcast had been quietly blocking/throttling BitTorrent traffic on their network. This led to a long legal fight, and ultimately, the proposed changes put together by the FCC.
In a nutshell, MPAA, AFTRA, SAG, DGA and IATSE essentially advocate the telco position that reclassifying broadband as a communications service is a bad idea. They believe the telcos will be under less obligation to help in the trade groups' fights against online copyright infringement.
The WGAw asserts that loss of net neutrality will potentially reduce the choices consumers have for enjoying the creative output of their guild, ergo, fewer long-term revenue opportunities. A lot of studio execs and producers in town, as well as some members of other unions, are still pretty upset with the WGAw for their striking activities over the past few years, but I'm surprised this has broken down along these lines.
Both comments acknowledge the need to deal with infringement, but the WGAw seems to be taking a more balanced stance. The whole issue brings several absolutist positions into conflict.
Disclosure: my production company is a SAG signatory, though I agree more with the WGAw position in this matter.
Andrea James is a writer, director, producer and activist based in Los Angeles. Her work often focuses on consumer activism, the free culture movement, exogenous mysticism, humor, and LGBT rights.