Battle for 'Net neutrality' arrives in Canada

There are a few stories today about Network neutrality: Lee-Anne Goodman of The Canadian Press (CBC copy), Alexander Panetta of the Canadian Press, Michael Geist, Shane Schick of ITBusiness.ca.

I've been writing about the threats to new communications media (See: CLUE policy coordinator at the Alternative Telecommunications Policy Forum) , and how there are multiple names for the same attack on new media rights from incumbent content and/or telecommunications monopolists.

I read Shane's article first, and sent the following as a letter to the editor. It was published on November 17.



Re: Videotron taxed the radio star

This seems like a game of reverse-logic to me. We've spent almost a decade and a half with the "Content is King" feudalists who believe that the Internet should be constructed to be a safe delivery mechanism for the incumbent content industry -- meaning the older entertainment industry. This has given us contentious debates that come with names like Digital Rights Management, Network Neutrality, Broadcast Flags and "closing the Analog Hole". Yes, they demand the government shut the A-Hole.

The "Content is King" feudalists have thus far successfully promoted their ideology, including laundering backward thinking policy through WIPO, and passing the DMCA in the United States. They have brainwashed the US government so well that the United States Trade Representative (USTR) is the largest influence on the Canadian copyright, broadcast, telecommunications and related policy processes.

We then have debates where politicians say that if the legacy content industry shouldn't be given absolute control over all new media, then at least the media should be levied such that incumbent copyright holders get compensated. This gave us the Private Copying levy on blank CDs, and is the origins of the "educational use of the Internet" levy that would see educational institutions paying a "tax" to allow students and teachers access to material most believed was made available royalty-free.

What is really happening is that incumbent content industry associations get control and/or royalties, and innovative new methods of production, distribution and funding (Peer production, peer distribution, Open Access, Creative Commons, Free/Libre and Open Source Software, etc) get excluded from the marketplace.

Having someone amusingly remind the legacy content industry that content is not king, and that there shouldn't be a levy put on the Internet that presumes that all content is owned by them, is a healthy part of the debate. I may agree that the proposal to tax content providers for using the network is not reasonable, but I consider it a bit more reasonable than redesigning the network to appease the incumbent content providers.

Russell McOrmond
Ottawa, ON