Unless you’ve been doing nothing but watching movies and TV, which is what they want you to do, don’t you know – the FCC has proposed some rule changes that might seriously f–k up the internet as we know it, and simultaneously, Comcast wants to buy Time Warner and control even more of our viewing options and ways to get online. Both of these things are horribly bad ideas, and both should be opposed by anyone who cares about indie films, art, music and/or the internet (and innovation, and…). You would think the organizations/companies that represent or work with all of us would be up in arms, assisting the fight, but as far as I can tell, most are just passing the buck to the Future of Music Coalition (more on that below).
I don’t need to add much to the debate here (I’ve been writing about it since at least 2006), but I want to make sure I help spread the word. You can learn more about why this stuff matters elsewhere. Public Knowledge is a good resource on the Comcast deal, and Free Press and Fight for the Future are doing a great job on net neutrality. Fight for the Future have also launched a great #StopTheSlowLane campaign that I urge you to run on your blogs/websites. Fred Wilson has a great post on why this matters to start-ups and VC’s. Dan Aronson of Fandor wrote about why this matters for filmmakers at IndieWire. The Washington Post has a great article on why this matters for indie films, and she links to some others on the issue. Probably the best article on it came out today from Astra Taylor who sums it up well:
Artists need to take note: Net neutrality may be the biggest media and communications policy battle ever waged, and the stakes could not be higher for independent voices. Unlike the old days when different mediums had discrete distribution channels, we are now utterly dependent on one network for everything: we read books and articles, watch television and films and listen to music online, just as we study, work and socialize there. The network underpinning all of this must be neutral and nondiscriminatory if we are to make good on the remarkable democratic potential of the Internet. Creators need to join the fight to defend this fundamental attribute of the digital ecosystem before it’s too late.
Further to that, if Comcast is allowed to take over Time Warner, it will limit competition in the space, lead to higher prices and less choice. We all know this, in spite of their arguments to the contrary. But even worse, and why the merger really matters, is that they’ll have more control over how most of us access the internet. The combination of these two things leads to some scary possible scenarios, as described in the links above, and here from The Wrap.
As I said, I don’t need to add much here, but I know some people who should, all of whom claim to help independent filmmakers and none of whom seem to be doing anything or very little about these issues. I don’t just mean the big dogs in the room, I also mean the smaller actors – regional film fests, arthouses, video start-ups and everyone else who has a bigger vehicle than I have in which to carry the message to a bigger population should be devoting their home page, their film screen and any other tools they have to spreading the word. I am friends with the leaders and staff of many of these nonprofits and companies, and I know they’re busy, have potential sponsor conflicts, boards who must approve political matters and/or just don’t understand the issue themselves, but it’s no excuse. Every organization and company that purports to represent indie filmmakers (and artists generally) should take action now. There’s still time and you can get the widget here. You can even use it as a filmmaker, or blogger with a small audience like me. I’m going to install it now…with some tech support.