Hollywood Is Still On The Wrong Side Of Net Neutrality

from the that's-unfortunate dept

A few days ago, BitTorrent's Chief Content Officer, Matt Mason, posted a plea to Hollywood to get on the net neutrality/open internet bandwagon, pointing out that having a free and open internet is very much in their interest, if they really want new platforms to emerge that give Hollywood more options than just the big players who dominate the space:
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.

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.
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.

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.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2014 @ 9:03am

    They just want to entrench themselves deeper in their silos.

    ISPs want to control everything. MPAA wants to ride the coattails.

     

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  2.  
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    DannyB (profile), May 16th, 2014 @ 9:05am

    Since when?

    Since when would you expect Hollywood to do something in its own best interest?

    These are the same people that would have killed the VCR.

    The DVD.

    All mp3 players by suing Diamond Rio out of existance for (gasp!) making an mp3 player!

    Internet streaming -- which Netflix is set to become the new king of. Especially after Disney signing Netflix as its exclusive internet streaming distributor starting in 2016.

     

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  3.  
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    The MPAA (profile), May 16th, 2014 @ 9:09am

    Why don't you people shut up and listen!

    We don't care about the FACTS!

    We have already made up our minds!

    The NET is not neutral, it is OURS!

    Now sit back and enjoy the show, DHS/ICE will be by to collect you shortly.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2014 @ 9:16am

    Letís 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.

    That is why asking Hollywood to support an open Internet is a bit like asking turkeys to vote for Christmas. Those are all innovations that weaken and threaten to kill Hollywoods control over film production; as does the ability for people in different countries to co-operate in film production.

     

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  5.  
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    Groaker (profile), May 16th, 2014 @ 9:18am

    Nothing new, Hollywood is on the wrong side of just a bout everything. From conception to delivery to archiving. There are any number of better ways to spend ones time that looking at violent eye candy. Read a book, have sex, take a walk, or whatever.

    Movies could be an absolutely great source of entertainment, intellectual stimulation, and education. Instead they are little more than remakes with computer generated graphics.

     

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  6.  
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    DannyB (profile), May 16th, 2014 @ 9:21am

    Re:

    You forgot sequels of remakes with computer generated graphics.

    And sequels of remakes of sequels.

    And Director's Cuts of sequels of remakes.

     

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  7.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), May 16th, 2014 @ 9:37am

    Re:

    Exactly correct. They are motivated on this issue by the same thing that motivates their behavior around piracy: it's about destroying the aspects of the internet that make it good.

    The internet is an existential threat to them because it enables people to produce and distribute content (and make more money doing it) without their involvement. All of the things they say and do that seems so senseless and out of touch makes total sense in that view.

     

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  8.  
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    AricTheRed (profile), May 16th, 2014 @ 9:44am

    Re: everything I ever wanted to know about conception I learned from The Terminator

    "Hollywood is on the wrong side of just a bout everything. From conception to delivery to..."

    I think you might be wrong on this one, as stated in the title I now copulate ONCE with any woman I can knowing, with what I learned from The Terminator, that it is possilbe that one of my progeny, might, in the future, send my dad back in time to allow me to save humanity from the machines.

    So I'm just trying to do my part, by doing her parts.

     

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  9. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Whatever, May 16th, 2014 @ 9:54am

    cool story bro

    Mike Masnick just hates it when copyright law is enforced.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2014 @ 9:54am

    Re:

    they are little more than remakes with computer generated graphics.


    It's always weird seeing this criticism from commenters here. The writers at this site repeatedly emphasize the fact that everything is a remix.

     

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  11.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), May 16th, 2014 @ 10:01am

    Re: Re:

    I think the criticism is that their remixes suck so horribly.

     

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  12.  
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    techflaws (profile), May 16th, 2014 @ 10:08am

    Re: cool story bro

    You mad, bro?

     

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  13.  
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    zip, May 16th, 2014 @ 10:28am

    ultimate plan

    "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."

    I'm sure the industry's ultimate plan is total vertical integration. Everything from the film studios to the TV networks to the content streaming providers to the ISPs all the way to the televisions in people's living rooms will come out of a single company. The concept of network 'neutrality' obviously stands in the way, and that's a big reason why the major corporate players want it scrapped. The current bandwidth dispute between Netflix and Comcast can easily be fixed with a corporate merger. Then everyone wins (except the consumer, of course).

    Like it or not, that's the future.

     

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  14.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), May 16th, 2014 @ 10:42am

    Re: ultimate plan

    "Like it or not, that's the future."

    Yes and no.

    If they succeed in their plan, it just means that the internet becomes cable TV and useless for everything else (i.e. the stuff about the internet that's actually valuable). That value is so large that it will be replaced. Their victory would simply mean what we think of as "the internet" will move to a new system altogether.

     

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  15.  
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    Andypandy, May 16th, 2014 @ 10:46am

    Re: Why don't you people shut up and listen!

    Anyone know how this will affect the rest of the world and if US consumers will be allowed to actually visit sites in other countries?

     

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  16.  
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    Ninja (profile), May 16th, 2014 @ 11:06am

    Actually it would be better if they stayed as far as possible from this debate as they both lack understanding and the desire to do the right thing. In fact they should remain away from anything that has even a remote connection with intellectual property. Bring those that matter: the public and the artists themselves.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2014 @ 11:36am

    Re: Re: ultimate plan

    Problem is, if they control the communications systems, they can prevent anything that they do not like on such systems. Without access to high speed digital systems, bandwidth, and real time interactions become a problem, along with any replacement only attracting a limited audience because of difficulties in using it. That is why net neutrality is so important, and ISPs should be separate from any content company and content delivery company, including cable and Satellite TV companies.

     

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  18.  
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    That One Guy (profile), May 16th, 2014 @ 11:45am

    Probably not the best argument, given the target

    Itís worth thinking about whatís 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 canít pay for access or funding will fail.

    Hollywood hates indie developers/companies, as they provide unwanted competition for Hollywood's crap, so saying that an open internet has helped drive indie development isn't exactly going to get them interested, and saying that without an open internet those companies will lose funding and disappear isn't likely to make them want that 'open internet'.

    As for the last bit, does anyone think that Hollywood studios would have trouble paying for the 'fast lane' options? Saying that those that cannot pay the extra will go out of business will motivate them alright, but not to support net neutrality.

     

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  19.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), May 16th, 2014 @ 11:55am

    Re: Re: Re: ultimate plan

    I agree, but the existing internet infrastructure isn't the only way available one. It's the best developed, and any replacements won't support all uses, but would support the most important things.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2014 @ 12:28pm

    Re: ultimate plan

    Not a future anyone would accept.

    They'd think that keeping the peoples' breads and circuses intact would be a good idea. Many have left old media because they have no voice, were bored by the overall lack of quality, and found it inconvenient. The Internet is all they have left, and when it becomes as unappealing as what they abandoned for the same reasons (1-900 numbers, radio, cable tv...), things will get ugly as they have nothing left to turn to.

    When the people have nothing to lose, they'll lose it.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2014 @ 1:15pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: ultimate plan

    One option I can see, which would circulate various types of cultural works, and even letters to the editor types conversations, is the exchange of flash media of various types. A matchbox full of micro SD cards would have a huge bandwidth, but an awful latency. However without a real time digital network, conversations like this become difficult.

     

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  22.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), May 16th, 2014 @ 1:26pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: ultimate plan

    No need to go that low tech. We have electronic communications systems right now that don't rely on the internet (indeed, many of them -- such as Fidonet -- predate the internet). There are even more that remain under active develop even as we speak.

    None of these are as ubiquitous or fast as the internet is, not all of them are real time, but those things fall squarely in the "nice to have" category, not in the "absolutely essential" category.

    If the degradation of the internet continues to the point where it can't perform its most essential function anymore, then there are fallback systems to accomplish the same thing. Personally, I don't think things will get that bad, but I've been wrong before...

    On the bright side of such a disaster, one of the root causes of the degradation of the internet is, paradoxically, it's extreme popularity. Fallback systems would not be so popular for reasons that are pretty obvious, which means that there would be less of a reason for powerful people and corporations to bother with trying to restrain it.

     

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  23.  
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    Joel Coehoorn, May 16th, 2014 @ 1:41pm

    Phrase worth Repeating

    Established players don't want an "unprecedented indie boom". They see this as bad news: more competition, means they have to work harder, as the pie is divided among more players.

    But I think this post uses a key phrase that's worth remembering, and repeating: "creative middle class". This is a phrase that will resonate with politicians. It can help them better understand what's happening in the industry, and how it is that the total picture can improve with more sharing and less copyright.

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2014 @ 1:46pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: ultimate plan

    We have electronic communications systems right now that don't rely on the internet

    VOIP is making that false in many of the developed countries, even if is done at the exchange, rather than the users phone. Also, Fidonet and the like, lack bandwidth, and over international distances not that much faster than airmail, and much slower for large files. As someone said back in the 1980s, never under estimate the bandwidth of a van load of tapes, which with modern technology has become an envelope of flash media.
    What I see as the main problem with replacement systems is that they isolate the activists from the general public. Such isolation is bad for people when things start to go bad, because it eliminates the moderating effect of a wider participation in discussion on activists, allowing them to become dominated by extremists.

     

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  25.  
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    observer, May 16th, 2014 @ 1:47pm

    Re: cool story bro

    2010 called. They want their meme back.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), May 16th, 2014 @ 3:32pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: ultimate plan

    I don't disagree at all. I'm just saying that if we lose the internet, we aren't left with nothing at all. The people will just be set back to approximately where we were in the '80s.

     

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  27.  
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    zip, May 16th, 2014 @ 7:15pm

    Re: Re: ultimate plan

    "Not a future anyone would accept."

    Like the "boiling frog" parable, people will accept virtually anything as long as it is done gradually. I'm sure that 50 or 100 years ago, most people would have said that 21st century American "corporatism" (as we know it today) could never happen, because the public would never stand for it (but they would have been dead wrong).

    Because from the late 19th to late 20th centuries, there used to a prevailing philosophy in this country, and in most of the world, that industries -- especially those which served a public need of any kind -- had to be regulated for the benefit of the public. Therefore monopolies and trusts were forcibly broken up and "gentlemen's agreements" between firms outlawed. Open competition was encouraged, vertical integration and mass-ownership discouraged, and corporate mergers tightly controlled.

    And of course, plenty of government agencies were created to enforce these business restrictions. Not for the benefit of the corporations, but for the benefit of the public. Under that philosophy, network neutrality would have been assured.

    But that was then. The trend over the last three decades has been that governments increasing see their primary function as insuring corporate profitably, even when at the expense of the public interest. I believe that this trend will continue for the foreseeable future.

    The loss of net neutrality --due to increasing corporate monopolization of the internet-- will happen gradually. And like the frog in hot water tale, people will accept it because they won't notice it's even happening, and by the time they finally do, it will be too late to do much about it.

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2014 @ 8:38pm

    Re:

    Hollywood movies could be an absolutely great source of entertainment, intellectual stimulation, and education, like many indy films are. Instead they are little more than remakes with computer generated graphics.

    FTFY.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 17th, 2014 @ 1:20am

    Big surprise. They lie every day but you guys still expect them to be honest about something?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
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    Anonymous, May 17th, 2014 @ 12:05pm

    Hollywood is on the wrong side of pretty much everything.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), May 17th, 2014 @ 1:16pm

    Re: Re: Re: ultimate plan

    The boiling frog parable is a terrible one. It's neither literally true nor true as a parable. People really do have a limit. That said, you don't have to go back 50 or 100 years to find a time when people would never have believed that we'd accept whatvwe accept now. You only have to go back a generation.

     

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  32.  
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    thomas, May 17th, 2014 @ 1:27pm

    hollywood net nutrality

    hollywood, wants to suck more money out of a unwilling public, since the present business plan is not working as well as they would like.
    the underlying issue is the nature of capitalism vs human freedom,

     

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  33.  
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    Jeff Woods (profile), May 17th, 2014 @ 4:55pm

    big players

    Hollywood (i.e. the major movie studios and record labels and their lobbyists*, the MPAA and RIAA) are just as much a part of the "big players" as the major datacomm providers who have a near monopoly on big player content (e.g. Hollywood) for which they charge getkeeper prices. It is no wonder they want to restrict access to competing providers (e.g. Netflix). Currently they can't figure out how to ban their competitors completely so they are trying to get gatekeeper pricing subsidies from them.

    The only reasonable solution is for companies that provide internet pipes** to be classified as telcos (i.e. Title II providers) by the FCC.

    P.S. By definition "indie" excludes "Hollywood". Big players view independents as competitors.

    *Herein I mean "lobbyists" in the most derisive tone possible.
    ** The acronym "ISPs" is no longer accurate. "Information Service Providers" are companies like Google, Wikipedia, Amazon, and Craigslist. Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, and Level3 are datacomm providers and should be classified as such.

     

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  34.  
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    me@me.net, May 19th, 2014 @ 5:24am

    Limiting Innovation

    Goes further than just profit margins, stupid outdated business models and the like, it essentially proves the contention I have always had regarding this issue, it's about CONTROL, of who creates what and who owns and distributes it. And the assertion is correct, it results in homogenized crap and ignores that music is an artform not something for these shlock peedlers to control. Other means will be formed and the course of evolution both in terms of art and technology will be the inevitable winners.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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