Thursday, June 19, 2008

ISPs and the music industry

In this article, Ars takes a stab at point out why an ISP would want to get into bed with a media company.
Of course, it's all about the money. In this case the money comes from one place -- subscribers. The ISPs want to put music on their networks exclusively, and charge through the nose for it. This is one of the things that could destroy the idea of a neutral Internet. For a neutral Internet to happen ISPs have to become dumb pipes. There really is no exception. For true network neutrality, one ISP cannot receive exclusive deals that another does not have similar access to. A similar comparison would be the iPhone's exclusivity on AT&Ts network. If you want an iPhone, you have to go to AT&T, no (legal under the DMCA) exceptions. There's no problem with that, really, it's just circumstance. However the problem that can arise is that to get that iPhone, you have to plan to sacrifice either 2 years or $200 to AT&T. View that through the lens of media and it becomes clear that an exclusive deal between an ISP and a movie or music company could turn out to be more nefarious than an early termination fee, or having your entire DRM'd collection of media suddenly not work.
The big thing with ISPs these days is to try and get into your head so that they can force and replace advertisements on the websites that you visit. Falling revenue streams are forcing ISPs to concern themselves less and less with legalities, privacy, customer concerns and worst of all, the Internet itself. Where then would exclusive media deals lead?
Imagine a world where competing ISPs who have competing media distribution deals are forced to come up with new ways to generate profits. Aside from raising subscription fees, which is easy to imagine, will soon happen every quarter, the only other option is to tighten the reigns on what the users of the ISPs are allowed to do. ISPs, cocooned in the idea that exclusive deals are the way to go will start down the road to the past, forcing themselves to look more and more like the AOL of the early 90's. (Meanwhile, those 'exclusive partnerships' between ISPs and media companies simply become 'branded deals' as the media companies realize ISPs are on a sinking ship.)
It won't take long for ISPs to realize that users are finding ways around the walled garden Internet provided them. The ISPs will suggest, then force, then petition Congress to allow ISPs to deny access to the Internet and their services unless users install software that cripples the Internet to the ISPs will, prevents media piracy, and reports all activity for monitoring, and Ad targeting.
If this sounds like a "Slippery Slope", that's because it is. But this one doesn't suffer from the fallacy of lack of truth. ISPs are gearing up to only allow access to authorized services already (they say that its only packet shaping and bandwidth management, but also hint at piracy prevention). Simply imagine what they would implement when profit motives and losses can't be measured by simple numbers like bandwidth, but instead rely on the notoriously devious "loss" numbers from the likes of the RIAA, MPAA and BSA.
For further proof, here is a link to exactly what I'm talking about. Entire sections of the Internet being blocked by ISPs. Of course, that is being done to "protect the children." How long before the proposed "G-rated" internet becomes law -- to protect the children?
So, here's the deal -- loosely. ISPs should only be able to enter into non-exclusive deals with any media, or advertising company. If one ISP gets a deal, they all get the option to sign up. This could create some complications, but no one ever said business was easy. The "Perfect Storm" is brewing just off the coast of Internet Neutrality, and we need to brace for impact.

1 comment:

OmegaWolf747 said...

Those bastards. This is what they've wanted from the beginning. This whole thing was engineered from the beginning by the government and the telecomm corporations.

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