Dan Glickman addresses ShoWest crowd
Showbiz’s top lobbyists are taking an increasingly vocal position against so-called Net neutrality, but not everyone in the industry is singing the same tune on the complicated policy issue.During his speech to ShoWest on Tuesday, Motion Picture Assn. of America topper Dan Glickman spoke out in the clearest, sharpest terms he’s ever used against Net neutrality when addressing the question of whether the government should have some authority to regulate Internet traffic, as sought by proponents of Net neutrality legislation. During a House subcommittee hearing on the subject Tuesday, Rick Carnes, president of the Songwriters Guild of America, spoke in almost identical terms for the same reason — opposing Net neutrality because it could impede Internet service providers’ efforts to curb online piracy. But at the same hearing, guitarist and vocalist Damian Kulash of the Web sensation band OK! Go said Net neutrality was absolutely needed. The issue is essentially a debate over whether government should regulate Internet traffic in a way that guarantees an open — or neutral — Web over which users and content providers have continued and unfettered access. Net neutrality proponents have claimed that, with a relatively few number of large ISPs, the potential to discriminate against particular kinds of Web traffic must be restrained by some sort of government intervention. Opponents, usually the ISPs and others in the tech community, have argued that they do not discriminate and that Net neutrality would prevent them from taking necessary measures to maximize efficiency of the increasingly burdened Web. For the most part, the entertainment industry has been agnostic on the question of Net neutrality, usually saying that any form of Web regulation should not prevent or hinder ISPs from snooping for pirated traffic. But at ShoWest, Glickman was unequivocal in the MPAA’s now-staunch opposition to any kind of Net neutrality regs. “No one here needs a lecture on what happens when one illegal copy makes its way to the Internet and is instantly available to the world,” he said. “Today, new tools are emerging that allow us to work with Internet service providers to prevent this illegal activity. And new efforts are emerging in Washington to stop this essential progress. “This effort is being called by its proponents ‘Net neutrality,'” Glickman continued. “It’s a clever name. But at the end of the day, there’s nothing neutral about this for our customers or for our ability to make great movies in the future. Government regulation of the Internet would impede our ability to respond to consumers in innovative ways, and it would impair the ability of broadband providers to address the serious and rampant piracy problems occurring over their networks today … Government regulation of the Internet would be a terrible reversal of American innovation policy.” Meanwhile, in D.C., Carnes told the House Antipiracy Task Force, a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee, that “regulations restricting the ability of ISPs to manage their networks would discourage the development of (new antipiracy) technologies and would eliminate the last bit of hope that songwriters have to survive the digital onslaught.” But Kulash spoke of ISP “bottlenecks,” comparing them to “gatekeepers,” he said, that existed in the pre-Internet music recording and broadcast radio industries, deciding which artists and songs would be heard. “Our success couldn’t have happened in the pay-to-play music industry of 10 years ago, or in a world without an open, unbiased and unfettered Internet,” Kulash said.