The Internet is the most accessible, affordable and inclusive media distribution platform in history.
The freedom and equality it offers for creative people like you and me has inspired big dreams and new hope for our world, our families and for ourselves as creative people.
Right now, that freedom and equality is being threatened by Comcast, Time Warner, Verizon and AT&T.
These companies are attempting to take control of the Internet by dismantling a good thing called “Net Neutrality.”
…and we artists need to speak up.
In this post, I have done my best to:
- Simplify the convoluted issue of Net Neutrality.
- Explain how the issue affects artists and visual storytellers.
- Encourage you to take one quick, simple action and email the people in charge.
This issue doesn’t just affect Americans. Every artist on the Internet knows that our fans and collaborators come from all over the world.
We all must act quickly to protect our creative future…
What They Really Mean Is “Net Equality”
The term “Net Neutrality” could be better described as “Net Equality.”
“The internet is the ultimate leveling field because something can become insanely popular on its own merit. It’s all equidistant. It’s about the merit of the work. The biggest comic right now is not Superman or Batman or Spider-Man. It’s Penny Arcade. “
Penny Arcade is one of the most popular and longest running webcomics.
They have a huge convention for gamers that hosts over 70,000 people each year and their merchandise requires an entire warehouse.
Two fanboys created a little, gag-a-day comic that has grown into a media empire.
Without Net Neutrality success stories like Penny Arcade would never have happened.
It’s Basically The Plot Of “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?”
The political drama surrounding the “Net Neutrality” issue is like the plot of the movie “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?”
In the movie, every cartoon character (Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse, Felix The Cat etc.) exists in the real world.
They come from a place called ToonTown which is located near Los Angeles, California.
Judge Doom is (obviously) the villain and his evil plan is (minor spoiler alert) to “erase” ToonTown from the earth so he can build a highway in it’s place.
We Are The Toons.
We are the Toons and and all of these amazing, diverse, happy, crazy, inspiring art communities we’ve built online are our ToonTown.
…and Comcast, Time Warner, AT&T and Verizon want to build highways that could wipe our home off the map.
…or at least displace us and make it extremely difficult to find each other.
Who Is Judge Doom?
The cable companies aren’t the only ones who are creating problems for us Toons.
The Federal Communications Commission was formed in 1934 to “regulate” radio and television broadcasts.
Now they “regulate” the Internet too.
Suspiciously, Tom Wheeler, the chairman of the FCC, is a former cable company lobbyist. Hmmm…
The FCC and specific members of the US Congress are currently working to pass laws that will create a “fast lane” for big business and a “slow lane” for everyone else.
If you want to get into the fast lane, you’ll have to pay a toll.
…a toll you probably can’t afford.
Startups, small businesses, non-profits and indie artists are currently in the “fast lane” along with everyone else. (Equality)
These new laws will allow the cable companies to slow our websites down artificially when making room for the “fast lanes” with the potential to effectively block them from our fans, friends and collaborators across the world.
The Worst Case Scenario?
One of my Twitter friends made a great point about what might happen if we lose Net Neutrality:
Maybe you’re aware that Facebook has recently implemented some confounding changes that make it nearly impossible to get your fans and followers to see your posts. (But they sure do get to see a lot of ads.)
…if we lose Net Neutrality, the entire Internet could be like Facebook.
…with favored “fast lane” content produced and controlled by the same people who brought you Jersey Shore and Keeping Up With The Kardashians.
I know it all sounds frighteningly Orwellian…
- Imagine an Internet that gives political preference.
The cable companies could give more bandwidth and attention to their own causes and self-interests.
- Imagine an Internet that silences the voice of the people.
Consider the role of social media in The Egyptian Revolution of 2013.
- Imagine an Internet that hides the truth.
“Cocoa Puffs are part of this nutritious breakfast!”
The new laws don’t just spoil the Internet for creators. The consumer suffers too. Check out this post on NPR to learn more.
Wake Up And Smell The Censorship:
Nobody wins in this scenario – not the innovators and creatives – not the consumers.
…only Comcast and the other big cable companies.
Tom Wheeler and the FCC need to pick a side: “Toontown” or “Judge Doom?”
Speak Out While You Still Have A Voice:
The good news is that The FCC has announced that they want to hear from the people.
Email Tom Wheeler ASAP and share your heart, your hopes and dreams in your own words.
Tell them that you’re an independent artist who makes your living (or is working to make your living) in whole or in part by the current equality (neutrality) of the Internet.
Be respectful but tell them that it is their responsibility to the future of humanity that they protect REAL Net Neutrality and the “Internet Slow Lane” is unjust and unacceptable.
If you would like to learn more about the Net Neutrality issue, watch this hilarious and highly-informative (slightly NSFW) video.