What the FCC's New Net Neutrality Rules Mean for Filmmakers (At Least for Now)
Today the Federal Communications Commission voted to approve new net neutrality regulations, called the Open Internet Order.
It "reclassifies broadband Internet access as a 'telecommunications service' under Title II of the Communications Act while simultaneously foregoing utility-style, burdensome regulation that would harm investment." Here's a rundown from The Verge about today's ruling:
This is essentially what they approved today (you can read the rest of the regulations here):
- No Blocking: broadband providers may not block access to legal content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices.
- No Throttling: broadband providers may not impair or degrade lawful Internet traffic on the basis of content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices.
- No Paid Prioritization: broadband providers may not favor some lawful Internet traffic over other lawful traffic in exchange for consideration – in other words, no “fast lanes.” This rule also bans ISPs from prioritizing content and services of their affiliates.
So what does it mean for content creators? Lowell Peterson of the WGA and Vimeo CEO Kerry Trainor recently spoke to Fox Business about the decision:
It basically means things stay the way they are for the majority of us. If you're distributing your film online, you're not going to have to pay more, and if you're uploading your next short film online, people will continue to enjoy it through whatever provider they have, without having to pay more just because it might be a bandwidth-sucking HD (or even 4K) video.
If you're worried about the ISPs, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler had this to say after the ruling:
Let me be clear, the FCC will not impose “utility style” regulation. We forbear from sections of Title II that pose a meaningful threat to network investment, and over 700 provisions of the FCC’s rules. That means no rate regulation, no filing of tariffs, and no network unbundling. During the 22 years that wireless voice has been regulated under a light-touch Title II like we propose today, there has never been concern about the ability of wireless companies to price competitively, flexibly, or quickly, or their ability to achieve a return on their investment.
Instead, the agency will use a catch-all general conduct provision to stop practices that the FCC deems “unjust” and “unreasonable” under the common carrier law.
FCC staff added that this system does not mean that ISP’s will have to seek permission to charge for interconnection, or to offer free data plans. But all the same, the agency will step in if companies have gone too far, and will investigate complaints.