Last Day To Comment On FCC Rules; Don't Be Swayed By EFF FUD

Last day to comment on the FCC network neutrality rules. But yet again, an organization is trying to wrongly conflate an unrelated issue with network neutrality. I suppose I should expect better from the EFF. The organization does, after all have an agenda to promote and while I think the organization has done some good work in protecting civil liberties and freedoms, they are wrong on the FCC proposed rules and their claimed loophole allowing the proposed rules to not apply to copyrighted work

Mike Fratto

January 14, 2010

2 Min Read
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Today is the last day to comment  on the FCC network neutrality rules. But yet again, another organization is trying to wrongly conflate an unrelated issue with network neutrality. I expect better from the EFF, as they have done some good work in protecting civil liberties and freedoms, but they are wrong on the FCC proposed rules concerning copyrighted works. They have put up a petition asking people to sign, I'd urge you not to sign it. Service providers should not be compelled to transfer illegal content.

In the classic FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) style, the EFF's plea says that "buried in the FCC's rules is a deeply problematic loophole" and "'unlawful distribution of copyrighted works' —to pressure Internet service providers around the world to act as copyright cops." Uh, no. First, the FCC proposed rules and the caveat for copyrighted works is hardly buried. The language of the rules makes it quite clear that the FCC is not trying to force the carrying of illegal content like pirated copyrighted works. The language is very clear that the FCC is describing a caveat for content, not protocols.

For example, Bittorrent, a P2P  file sharing protocol, is used to transfer copyrighted works. But it is also used, maybe less so, to efficiently distribute other works. As I write this, I am downloading, via Bittorrent, a Fedora Project 12 DVD ISO file. Perfectly legal. Comcast came under fire for throttling P2P file-sharing traffic because presumably P2P traffic was crushing its network and impeding other customers' performance. That may or may not be true (I'm inclined to think it is true), but Comcast's blocking wasn't to stop copyrighted works, but to stop what it considered abuse of its service that inconvenienced other users (which I don't agree with).

The crux of the matter is this. If you don't like copyright law, then fight to change that. Don't conflate copyright with network neutrality.  It simply confuses the issue and slows down regulation the regulatory process.

About the Author(s)

Mike Fratto

Former Network Computing Editor

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