By Indiewire | Indiewire July 15, 2014 at 5:32PM
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has proposed new rules that could have a big impact on the open internet. Major internet companies are urging the FCC to restrict the ability of Internet providers to charge for faster delivery of Web traffic from content providers (such as Netflix).
The Internet Association (whose members include Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter, Reddit, and Netflix) asked in a Monday filing to the FCC that rules be set prohibiting a provider from restricting or blocking Internet traffic, which the association claims providers are incentivized to do. The Writers Guild of America and the Future of Music Coalition have also urged the FCC to act more strongly.
As you may have heard, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has proposed new rules that could have a big impact on that beloved series of tubes we call the Internet.
Under the FC'’s proposal, broadband providers like AT&T and Comcast could charge online companies like Vimeo to deliver traffic (such as video uploads and plays) to their customers in a timely manner. We think this will create a two-tiered Internet — fast tubes for those who can afford to pay a hefty toll and slow tubes for everyone else — and will ultimately harm innovation and creative expression. As a result, we’re calling on the FCC to demand "net neutrality" — rules that prevent broadband providers from discriminating against content that runs through their pipes.
A free and open Internet has given us many wonderful things. For instance, it allowed Vimeo to emerge in 2004 as a whole new way to share videos online. In the years since, it has enabled continued innovations like Vimeo’s early adoption of HD video (in 2007) and the development of Vimeo On Demand (in 2013), which enables creators to distribute creative work directly to their audiences and keep most of the revenue. Without rules requiring net neutrality, broadband providers could make innovations like these prohibitively expensive by charging arbitrary tolls for Internet "fast" lanes and making the "regular" traffic lanes slow and unusable.
Furthermore, if broadband companies could do whatever they please, they will favor their own content over everyone else’s. That means independent content you see on Vimeo might not load as fast as, say, a Hollywood summer blockbuster from a cable company’s on-demand service. We know that even short delays in video performance can have a big effect on what people watch. We think that audiences should be able to watch whatever they want without discrimination by broadband providers.
Yesterday, the Internet Association (whose members include Vimeo's parent company, IAC, as well as Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter, Reddit, and Netflix) submitted comments to the FCC. Read the Internet Association’s comment letter. We think Vimeo has a unique perspective, so we submitted our own letter. Read Vimeo’s comment letter.
Now it’s your turn.
Independent creators and their audiences stand to lose in a two-tiered Internet, so we encourage you to submit your own comments. Today is the deadline to submit "initial" comments to the FCC, but the FCC will accept "reply" comments until September 10, 2014. Dozens of tech companies, public interest groups, and over 650,000 people have already filed their own comments — an unprecedented amount of public participation in a regulatory proceeding!
We recommend submitting your comments through the Electronic Frontier Foundation or Battle for the Net. Both forms offer suggested messaging with the option to customize. If you’re unsure of what to say, here are a few examples for inspiration:
* As an independent filmmaker, I’m concerned that a two-tiered Internet will make it harder for me to reach my audience. Net neutrality has opened up new ways to distribute independent film at a low cost. I don’t want to have to choose between playing my films at a slow rate versus paying a lot of money to play them at a rate consumers expect.
* As a consumer, I like having access to a broad range of videos on the Internet, from cat gifs to family videos to my favorite movies and TV shows. I pay for Internet access and I want equal access to all Internet content, not just content provided by companies that can afford to pay for "premium" delivery.
* It’s important to have different places on the Internet to upload videos. Who’s going to watch my videos if they take longer to load than the videos people watch on a handful of major platforms?
* Major corporations that produce and distribute content should not also control the speed at which all content is delivered. We need rules that demand fair treatment of all content, no matter who owns it.
* A two-tiered Internet will make it harder for start-ups and small media organizations to get off the ground. This will stifle innovation and reduce consumers’ choices.
Use your own words, of course, and keep it thoughtful and on point — just as you would if you were commenting on a Vimeo video. The most important thing is for the FCC to understand how its rules will impact you as a creator and/or consumer of independent media.
Thanks for joining us in supporting an open Internet!