Hollywood Is Still On The Wrong Side Of Net Neutrality
from the that's-unfortunate dept
Let’s also consider what an open Internet has meant for Hollywood so far, and why it might be worth protecting. An open Internet has made new financing, production, distribution and marketing models a reality. More users are being reached, and re-engaged, thanks to platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. More films are being produced. The global box office hit a new record of $35.9 billion in the last year. And digital movie purchases surged 47%, now making up for declines in physical sales and rentals. If you look at the facts and figures, the industry is in the best shape it’s ever been in. It’s impossible to ignore the impact of the open Internet on film.And, indeed, many in the entertainment business certainly do appear to recognize the issue. One of the leading proponents of net neutrality and the open internet is Senator Al Franken, who has long been a supporter of Hollywood, given his past career. And it was great to see a large group of famous musicians recently speak out in favor of net neutrality.
It’s worth thinking about what’s at stake, beyond the lot. The Internet has ushered in a new era of funding, and with it, an emerging creative middle class; an unprecedented indie boom. The startups and platforms that fund our creative middle class are poised to disappear with Net Neutrality. Any studio or production company that can’t pay for access or funding will fail.
The impact of a closed Internet is not abstract: something felt only in Silicon Valley, something for the government to work out. An unequal Internet is an Internet that’s unsustainable for film.
But, tragically, the powers that be among the legacy entertainment industry still seem to view net neutrality as a problem, not an important part of their future. It appears this is a combination of a few factors, led by their continued and irrational fear of "piracy." Because of this, they seem to think that any sort of "open" internet is a problem. In fact, back in 2007, the MPAA specifically argued that net neutrality would harm its anti-piracy efforts. Similarly, both the RIAA and MPAA have lobbied strongly in the past for special loopholes and exceptions to any net neutrality rules that would allow ISPs to block content the legacy guys don't like. In fact, one of the most famous net neutrality violations involved Comcast throttling BitTorrent connections. The Songwriters Guild of America once claimed that net neutrality would mean an end to songwriting.
Of course, none of that is true. Many are simply kneejerk reactions to being overly fearful of the internet. One hopes that in the years since all those statements were made, many in those industries have since realized that an open internet is important to their future. The end of net neutrality would actually be incredibly damaging to them, as it would also lock in the power of a few larger internet players of whom the entertainment industry is already distrustful. Netflx, Amazon and Google will survive just fine on a non-neutral internet. They can pay the bills. It's the other guys, the new and innovative startups that will provide the necessary competition, who may get left behind.
The MPAA, RIAA and others seemed to hope that without net neutrality, the internet could be crafted into a system more like cable TV, with more centralized power and less innovation. But hopefully they now realize that's not a good thing. It would be good if they finally spoke up about it, though.