As independent creators we’ve reaped the benefits of net neutrality more than anybody else. A free and open internet allows us to promote our art, music, words, crafts, etc without fear of having to pay exorbitant fees to get our messages out and into the world. Well, it used to. A little while ago, a federal court struck down the FTC’s long standing rules about net neutrality.
Almost immediately the FTC started scrambling, trying to find ways to reinstate net neutrality through other rules and regulations. Hopefully they’ll succeed.
If you aren’t sure why you should care about this, consider Netflix. Reports have been rolling in for months that major internet providers Comcast and its subsidiaries had been slowing down Netflix’s delivery to subscribers. The companies denied this, of course, but that didn’t stop Comcast from forcing Netflix to agree to pay for direct access to their “Internet tubes” to keep the “supposed” slowing down from happening in the future.
Granted, Netflix is “the big guy” and you are “the little guy.” Still, there’s a thing called precedent and the settlement between Comcast and Netflix—especially if the FTC isn’t able to rebrand net neutrality and get those rules back in place—sets it. How long do you think it will take for what happened to Netflix to “trickle down” to iTunes? Or Amazon? Or YouTube? Or to BandCamp? Or Pandora, Spotify, iTunes…you get the idea.
The last thing you, as an independent creator needs, is to have some giant corporation throttle your ability to distribute your music, words or art.
So what can you do? How do you keep this net neutrality battle from affecting your broadcast?
1. Vote with Your Dollars
Ask your current internet service provider if they support net neutrality. Ask your Internet service provider if it will be complying with the rules of Net Neutrality (even though the federal court currently says it doesn’t have to). If both answers aren’t yes, switch services. There are plenty of ISPs who have gone on the record in support of net neutrality, choose one of those.
Note: This is a great way to save some money while standing up for your beliefs. Spend some time tracking down websites that doing things like offering an online Verizon FIOS promotion code. Ask for incentive deals that help make up the cost for your giving up a current contract. You get the idea.
2. Educate Your Audience
It’s entirely possible that your audience doesn’t know that Net Neutrality is being threatened or why they should care about it. Tell them what’s going on!
3. Rally Your Audience
Let our SOPA win stand as a blueprint for how we’ll get Net Neutrality cemented into law. Remember—it was all of us speaking out and rallying our audiences to speak out that showed Congress how serious we were about preserving our right to publish and distribute as we saw fit. We can do the same for Net Neutrality.
Start petitions, write letters and call your state and federal congress people. Remember, as naïve as it sounds, your elected officials work for you. Even if this doesn’t force them to agree with you, it does force them to take your calls and read your letters (well, their staffs probably help with that).
Remember: this is an election year. This means that you shouldn’t just be lobbying the people already seated. It means you should be lobbying people who are hoping to be seated (or keep their seats). Throw your vocal and monetary support behind candidates that support Net Neutrality and the Independent Creator.
Whatever you do, don’t sit still. This is your livelihood we’re talking about! Do you really want to go back to the days of zines and having to post and mail fliers? Stamps are so expensive now!
Featured Image Credit: Net Neutrality/ShutterStock