Net Neutrality explained for writers and other artists

My latest column for Locus magazine is "Net Neutrality for Writers: It's All About the Leverage," a piece about the risks to artists of allowing network carriers to demand bribes for "premium carriage" of our content.
Not that the telcos really care about this. Art, schmart. They just want to get paid, and paid, and paid. First they get paid when a company like Google buys a heptillion dollars' worth of Internet access for a service like YouTube. Then they get your $10-$80/month for your home broadband. Then they get paid a third time by charging Google to send bits to your broadband link.

But the entertainment giants aren't all that upset by the idea of having to pay twice to access their audience. For one thing, they can afford it. That's what the ''giant'' in ''entertainment giant'' means. But more importantly, that's how they've always done it. Fanning out a horde of business-development gladhanders to sort out the details of distribution deals with disparate channel operators around the world is second nature for them. There's a floor of their corporate headquarters devoted to this kind of thing. They've got their own annual picnic and everything.

Two-gals-in-a-garage do not have this asset. They have two gals. They have a garage. If Net Neutrality is clobbered the way the telcos hope it will be, the next Web or YouTube won't come from disruptive inventors in a garage; it will come from the corporate labs at one of the five big media consortia or one of a handful of phone and cable companies. It will be sold as a ''premium'' service, and it won't upset anyone's multi-million-dollar status quo.

Net Neutrality for Writers: It's All About the Leverage


  1. “Net Neutrality explained for writers and other artists” heh heh, that sounds just so patronising ;-)

  2. “the next Web or YouTube won’t come from disruptive inventors in a garage; it will come from the corporate labs at one of the five big media consortia or one of a handful of phone and cable companies”

    Either that or (more likely) these innovations won’t happen at all.

  3. Ya gotta love how big media spent the last decade trying to dismantle the internet, and is poised to spend the next chopping it up and monetising it.

    I’m still bewildered by the influence Hollywood manages to have worldwide, and the smaller media barons (Berlusconi, Rogers) desire to prevent *anyone* seeing their work, under any circumstances, as though they don’t want a greater audience.

    The music labels have belatedly recognised the power of youtube, movie trailers are everywhere online, and we have netflix. Now if only Hulu and BBC would sell foreign commercials (you know they could) everyone could access this stuff.

    Of course, this Canuck would love to see CBC and CTV do the same, but we don’t even make DVDs of our shows for the most part, never mind online commercial distribution.

    We’re lucky CBC has a youtube channel, and the NFB does their own online video.

  4. I like how they made it seem like we only had two choices:
    1: Unregulated, network carriers do what ever they want.
    2: FCC regulates the internet, so that network carriers can do what ever they want.

    Why was the current model an option anymore?
    3: FCC regulates the internet (but for real this time), and the carriers keep doing what they thought they had to do when they believed the FCC was regulating the internet before. Not messing with the data.

    Say bye bye to the American “Guy in the garage makes a better mousetrap” Dream. Imagine if Facebook had to pay for every byte they sent out, they would have been broke after 10 days.

    I feel like we should have at least been given a reach around after what the FCC just did to us.

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