Net Neutrality's Death Rattle Starts July 12

Illustration for article titled Net Neutrality's Death Rattle Starts July 12

ISPs are about to start policing your downloads on behalf of monolithic organizations like the RIAA and MPAA. Are you ready for the internet nanny state?


Last year, Comcast, Cablevision, Verizon, and Time Warner Cable agreed to take steps to combat piracy on their networks. Translation: the ISPs said they would monitor your internet traffic and make your life hell if they suspect you're up to illegal file sharing.

Speaking at the Association of American Publishers' annual meeting, RIAA CEO Cary Sherman says that the ISPs are all on track to kick off the "anti-piracy initiative" by July 12th. What exactly that means depends varies from ISP to ISP. CNET reports:

The program, commonly referred to as "graduated response," requires that ISPs send out one or two educational notices to those customers who are accused of downloading copyrighted content illegally. If the customer doesn't stop, the ISP is then asked to send out "confirmation notices" asking that they confirm that they have received notice.

They will also be informed of the risks they incur if they don't stop pirating material. The ISP then can ratchet up the pressure. The ISPs can choose from a list of penalties or what the RIAA calls "mitigation measures" that include throttling down the customer's connection speed to suspending Web access until the subscriber agrees to stop pirating. The ISPs can waive the mitigation measure if they choose.

Basically, if you like BitTorrent, get ready for some hate mail and snail's pace download speeds courtesy of your ISP! So much for the free and open web. [CNET]

Image via Shutterstock/John David Bigi III


And, Spoons

It's very difficult to imagine this having the effect the MPAA and RIAA intend. Assuming the system works at all — which is to say, it correctly identifies people who are actually downloading and not middle-aged mothers and elderly people who have never heard of BitTorrent, which has historically been a challenge for them — it's likely to cause a backlash against ISPs, the creation of new services designed to hide illegal downloading, Congressional hearings, piles of lawsuits, and plenty of other fallout.

These industry groups may be insulated from the fallout because nobody thinks of themselves as buying anything directly from them, but the ISPs are not. I can see the ISPs dropping this cause like a hot potato once it becomes clear they will lose customers because of it, not least because it's not their fight to begin with.

Then, when CD sales continue to plummet anyway (I don't actually know how much of an effect piracy has had on movie sales), the RIAA will conclude that those thievin' kids must be finding some other way to steal their products. Which will probably be true. I don't see millions of people who simply believe music is not something you have to pay for suddenly changing their minds.

Which is not to say I support piracy. I actually buy far more music these days than I did when it was only available on CD, despite the many options for finding it online, legal and otherwise. But until they accept piracy as a fact of life and start creating reasons for people to want to buy things from them, instead of doing whatever they can get away with in a Quixotic, nihilistic quest to burn down the Internet if they can't get their way, I don't see things getting much better for them.