Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Corporate America vs. The Rest of Us

There's been a commercial that has been running on my local Comcast cable system lately that reduces the Net Neutrality issue to, "Net Neutrality means YOU pay."

Huh? No, I'm already paying for broadband access. Implicit in my (substantial) fee for broadband is the assumption that I will be using high-bandwidth applications or viewing high-bandwidth entertainment. So no, I don't think Net Neutrality should mean "I pay."

Nor, in my opinion, should the providers of such services be required to pay extra on top of their current access fees just because they offer popular or high-bandwidth content.

Look, let's be honest - the cable and phone companies want more money, and they've latched onto the "tiered service" idea as a way to do it. Frankly, I'd think most corporations would be doing anything but asking for more money when there have been so many incidents of over-paid executives, the raiding of corporate treasuries, the cancellation of employee pension plans and other evidence of corporate greed and wrongdoing.

Net neutrality is important because it allows each of us using the net, whether we are users or content providers, to share in the rise and fall of the 'net's fortunes. If the net becomes clogged with too much high-bandwidth content, then we'll all suffer and will ALL be motivated to make improvements to the infrastructure. But I'll be damned if I will pay broadband prices to get dialup service speeds because AT&T thinks it needs more money for better service to me. I'm already paying for that quality of service.

Now let's talk about "fair use," ok? The DMCA is a terrible bill pushed through by lobbyists for the RIAA and MPAA. Now I read today that the Copyright Office of the Library of Congress says we can't rip DVD's to view on our iPods and the RIAA says that we can't consider ripping CD's for use on mp3 players "fair use," despite their OWN LAWYER saying last year:
"The record companies, my clients, have said, for some time now, and it's been on their website for some time now, that it's perfectly lawful to take a CD that you've purchased, upload it onto your computer, put it onto your iPod."
OK, which is it?

Look, it boils down to this, the same thing it always has in the past: The "haves" vs. the "have-nots." King George III said we, the people, couldn't declare our independence, too. Look where that got him.

These corporations have forgotten that the customer is always right. They're so focussed on fattening their profits that they're crushing the life (and the fun) out of the things they sell.

I'm not an advocate of ripping off these companies. As I said in a previous post, if you can't afford software, find a free or open source alternative.

But by the same token, if I have bought a cassette of "Lou Reed Live," I'll be damned if I'm going to buy a CD of it and then buy it again from iTunes to use on an iPod. I'll buy one copy and translate it into whatever form I need. It's mine, I paid for it, and I don't CARE if the RIAA likes it or not. Nor can they stop all of us.

It's this simple: It's them vs. us. As long as we continue with civil disobedience, they can't round up everyone and eventually they'll see the truth of our position.

Rock on!

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