The debate about net neutrality continues to gather momentum. The FCC watered down approach to permit “commercial reasonable” deals will see the start (albeit constrained) two lane internet. The ability to degrade one service to provide a premium service to others is going to undermine one of the primary foundation stones of the internet – openness.
Whilst the above is a US debate and time will tell how it pans out, the fact remains that once we allow an end to net neutrality no matter how small the “right” is – we will see a change to the way the internet operates. Lawyers will no doubt argue over what constitutes “commercially reasonable” but the damage will be done.
The internet should be open and built on a fair and equal basis. Time is running out but hopefully the FCC and consequently other governments will recognize the importance of net neutrality and end any discretion.
….and achieves nothing. According to the BBC a deal between the ISPs and the internet industry will see a watered down “educational” letter sent to individuals illegally downloading content. All sounds great and the ISPs must be breathing a huge sigh of relief that they have avoided the draconian measures initially proposed under the Digital Economy Act (“DEA“). Equally, it is understood that the entertainment industry have secured an agreement to “rapid implementation” of the DEA if this softly, softly approach doesn’t work.
However, no matter who feels they got the best deal here, the point has been missed. Copyright law already provides adequate mechanisms to deal with infringement and this half hearted compromise adds little. This has been highlighted with a number of recent victories for the entertainment sector in blocking file sharing sites.
The problem is not the law – the problem is the archaic approach from the entertainment industry to recognise and adapt to the changing environment. There will always be individuals who will do whatever they can to avoid having to pay for anything but equally many of us are more than happy to pay provided that it is fair and reasonable. The incomprehensible licences, the silly fee pricing and the lack of recognition that we now live in a global world are all encouraging individuals to ignore legitimate systems.
If the entertainment industry want to protect their intellectual capital then they need to stop simply trying to encourage a change in the law but instead to do what all businesses are having to do in the internet era – adapt. Lets see a proper and realistic pricing model, lets see more adaptable licensing structures that recognise that individuals have access to multiple devices and lets see a recognition that if something is shown in the US – people may want to watch it very soon after…….
As a lawyer it pains me to admit that the only real victors in the “back and forth” patent wars is……yep, the lawyers. The latest “victory” for Apple saw the tech giant awarded nearly $120m against Samsung. Sounds great but the original claim from Apple ran into the billions and in part here lies the problem. The patent system whether in the US or the UK is overly complicated and allows defendant and claimant to embark on claim, counter claim and generally accuse each other of wrong-doing. Net impact….. the lawyers keep on charging.
The Apple v Samsung case is just the latest in a series of armed warfare by both parties and it is hard to understand which of them feels victim or victor anymore. The patent system needs to be simplified and parties encouraged to work together. The US IP systems much more open approach to technology patents is partially to blame for encouraging parties to register and claim every aspect of their ideas which has a tendency to see the sublime, the ridiculous and the actual innovative all given the chance to register.
Anyway – no doubt the bell for round 6, 7 or whatever we are on now will soon ring and both Samsung and Apple will commence battle. Somehow I foresee a score draw for them both (lawyers excluded).