Posted by: Rachel B. | November 13, 2014

Who Owns the Internet’s Copyright?

The protection that copyright laws lend to artists and creators cannot be underestimated. Nor can it be relegated to the physical world alone. This protection also extends to all creations existing digitally on the internet. For example, if I were to publish a DIY organic makeup recipe blog this very moment (which I wish I had the skills to actually execute), my work would be protected under the law. Anyone who tried to copy and paste my original recipe for avocado infused lip stain could face legal penalty. And right they should!

With the advent of convenient online publication and distribution via blogging, once obscure and irrelevant creative geniuses can now hope to gain widespread success. And that success can be protected via copyright. But what would happen if the so called “neutral” net within which most of us operate, were to become less neutral?

The content that we all create suddenly relegated to a slow lane by Comcast or other ISPs (internet service providers.) Sure, copyright laws protect your intellectual property, but what good are they if nobody can access it? In light of current events, I think we all need to be talking about Net Neutrality. Our very own president has sided with the over 4 million Americans commenting on the FCC’s website who agree that designating fast and slow lanes for content providers like Netflix and Google are contrary to what the internet is all about. Using Google to educate myself on this topic, I stumbled upon an interesting infographic purporting to explain how the internet actually works:


According the the article “What Everyone Gets Wrong in the Debate Over Net Neutrality” by Robert McMillan, content providers already have an advantage in distributing content by bypassing the “internet backbone” and setting up content delivery networks within ISPs. Those fast lanes everyone is so worried about? Well it turns out they already exist!

The real threat seems to be Comcast and other ISPs’ very own copyright-like control over internet service. If there are only a few ISPs, then content providers won’t have any choice in negotiations over prices or speed. Verizon could start charging Google to provide a quicker connection. And in turn, that cost could trickle down to the consumer.

We might intrinsically feel like we all have a right to the internet, as if we all hold some kind of legally binding contract based on our digital creations that exist in blogs, news feeds, and embeds. But in fact, it is the ISPs that have more control, and currently stand to prevail over all of us individual copyright owners if the FCC decides in their favor.

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