There recently was an online protest called "Internet Slowdown Day", a movement which brought attention to a proposal the FCC is currently going over which would split the internet into two lanes, a "fast lane" and a "slow lane". If websites pay content provides (AKA Comcast, TWC, and the like) a premium, they gain access to the "fast lane".
The protest gained recognition from several major websites including Kickstarter, Mozilla, reddit and Netflix. On September 10th they all featured a loading sign on their sight in reference to what the internet could become if the proposal were to be passed.
In this post I aim to tackle two main questions:
1. What exactly is this proposal?
2. How does it affect filmmakers?
First off, what is this proposal in its simplest terms? Well, quite simply it turns cable companies into the mafia. And that isn't a harsh exaggeration. If you want your website to have protection from the slow lane, you've got to pay your Internet Service Provider (ISP) a premium. No premium, no protection.
Hmm... sounds like a business model I've heard of.
This has been a continuous battle (and probably wont stop any time soon) for what people are calling "net neutrality". Which, as John Oliver points out below, is a rather boring phrase and should be accurately renamed to "Preventing Cable Company F*ckery".
Clearly this proposal wouldn't benefit anyone (besides ISP's), but how would it doom filmmakers especially? For that I turn to an article written by nofilmschool.com, "The Doomsday Scenario: Net Neutrality Dies & Independent Film Along With It".
Okay, so the armageddon-esk picture at the head of this article is a little dramatic, but there are a lot of important points in this article that deserve attention. For one, the internet has become one of the largest markets for independent filmmakers. Vimeo and YouTube are of course the more popular platforms, but there's several other sites that filmmakers use to share their films too. (Shoutout shortoftheweek.com) But with this new proposal it's unknown which platforms would be able to reach your intended audience. It's also unlikely you would be able to do it for free if the platform now had to pay extra for your video to stream at a bearable speed. Kickstarter, providing a new and innovative way for filmmakers to fund their films, made their stance on the matter very clear:
We're speaking out against the FCC's draft Internet regulations that would allow cable companies to create a two-tiered Internet, divided into fast and slow lanes. These proposed rules would stifle innovation, discourage creativity, and destroy the Internet that we know and love.What makes the internet so beautiful is that all data is created equal. Right now, I can upload a my film to the internet and know that it will load at the same speed as every other film uploaded. It doesn't matter how popular it is or how deep the creator's pockets are. History has already taught us that picking favorites does a lot of damage to society.
Let's not repeat ourselves, shall we?