Net Neutrality, Copyright and You

Monday, April 23rd, is World Book and Copyright Day, and according to the Director General of UNESCO:

Much has also been said about the book as the driving force behind a wide array of income-generating activities and about the role of the book within today’s knowledge economies as an instrument for learning, sharing and updating knowledge. Of course, the linguistic dimension of publishing, an instrument of expression that lives through language and within a language, has also been emphasized and remains a decisive factor.

Lastly, as there can be no book development without copyright, the celebration of the Day has always been closely associated, from its inception and throughout all these years, with an awareness of the importance of the moral and heritage protection afforded to works of the human spirit and their creators.

Well, I think that the DG of UNESCO is way off the mark on the value of copyright and how much it protects the individual creator, especially in a digital, networked world. Organisations like Creative Commons are of even more value in the developing world than in the richer countries, helping individual artists reach their markets without going through the bottleneck of middlemen like publishers. Writers who publish books in the traditional way only receive a small amount of the end unit price, while direct to consumer models like Lulu give up to 80% of proceeds to the creator. When copyright outlives the actual creator, whose interests are being served?

At this time in the evolution of the industrial economy, copyright helps to entrench corporate incumbents and makes it difficult for innovative start-ups.

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The same goes for Internet access, where large corporations with their vested interests control the pipes. Jevon has put forth a good explanation on why Net Neutrality is an important issue for all of us:

Most large internet service providers come from incumbent industries such as Telecom or Cable TV. These large companies have been good and reasonably efficient at rolling out infrastructure, but they have also been birthed in the womb of government protection, artificial market dominance and a market segment that has an inelastic demand for their services.

Why does that matter? Well, it’s a fair bet that if it hasn’t already happened, high speed internet subscriber rates will soon start levelling off. As markets like Canada, the US and the UK see this peaking of subscribers, these incumbent companies will begin to look for ways to meet revenue growth projections. We’ve already seen what this can do here in Canada, it’s happened with our national cellular phone providers.

Get involved in the debate now, before it’s too late and our Big Brothers control not just our past culture but our ways of sharing information to create new culture.

I recently wrote about Packet Shaping and mentioned an organisation called NetNeutrality.ca. Today, this is all that is left of their website:

Thank you to all those who have supported our websites. Due to increasing legal concerns resulting from our public participation in the Net Neutrality debate, we have at this time decided to shut down the operation of these sites.

We have no comment for the media and will not be releasing any additional detail about the factors leading up to this decision. We are currently looking for an appropriate organization to take over these properties and who has the resources to properly operate these sites.

Update: the Net Neutrality website is back up and running 🙂

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