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Poster for Ebertfest, 2014.

Much of the focus on net neutrality has been about how its loss would stifle innovation in the tech field, how companies would be reluctant to innovate, even to start up, in an environment where their software, their apps, their products couldn't compete on a level playing field. Those are compelling arguments, but it's not just commerce that's at stake here. The arts, Alyssa Rosenberg argued a few weeks ago when the two-tiered internet plan in the FCC was first discussed, require the same opportunity to reach the public as tech companies.
"'Life, Itself,' I think, was the first film in Sundance's history to be seen at home the same night it was shown at Sundance. And I think Roger would have been tremendously exhilarated about that," Chaz Ebert said of the biopic about her husband, the late critic Roger Ebert, in a discussion at EbertFest last month. "Some people live in small towns, and some movies like 'Museum Hours' or 'Short Term 12' may never make it to some small towns. So in the sense that if they had a film festival where you could get access to that and buy access for streaming afterwards, I'm in favor of that, so more people can see them otherwise.”

But what happens if it becomes difficult to stream those independent films? What if independent films, distributed through standalone Web sites or smaller streaming companies, buffer endlessly while content on sites like Netflix, which pay for fast-lane access, loads immediately?

At EbertFest, after receiving the Golden Thumb for "Museum Hours," filmmaker Jem Cohen said that Ebert's vision would be in danger without net neutrality provisions that prevent some people from paying for faster loading speeds.

"If we value unusual experiences in what we read, what we watch, and what we do, then we do have to support things that make that possible. When it comes to cinema and this idea of arthouse cinema and kind of the non-blockbuster, over and over again, it is disappearing for real," he said.

If different content is allowed to load at different rates, he said, "it is just simply not mysterious what it will lead to…The bigger company will get the lanes on the highway. And the little art film that might have ended up there will be slower to load and easier for people to give up on. Because they will just go and watch the big movie from the big company that loads really quickly…It seems kind of obscure, but they may really, really, really affect not just what you watch, but what people like me get to make.

An internet that is free and open for innovation in technology is open as well for free expression, for exploration and development of ideas and images and words and films that entertain and inspire. That certainly seems worth protecting.

Please sign our petition to the FCC to keep a free and open internet.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Netflix hidden gems.. (10+ / 0-)

    Since it's the holiday, here are a few gems that likely didn't make it to your cineplex or on your TV long, but you should watch a few documentaries..

    Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011)
    Orgasm, Inc.
    Terms and Conditions May Apply
    Much Ado About Nothing (2013, Joss Whedon)

    I'd recommend any of the above, films you probably didn't get a chance to screen.

    Yes, you get it.. Net Neutrality isn't just about entertainment.  For many, it's a source of news.. sometimes the only source of news for major information.

    Here in Kansas, without access to twitter or blogs, teachers couldn't have communicated with each other about votes.

    In Missouri, a women's protest outside of the capital was streamed live on the internet... while they rallied inside of the capital building.

    In local time, they both received less then 3 minutes of local news, one night, one day of the week.

    When we make difficult the ability to obtain news and information, it harms all of us.

    Gandhi's Seven Sins: Wealth without work; Pleasure without conscience; Knowledge without character; Commerce without morality; Science without humanity; Worship without sacrifice; Politics without principle

    by Chris Reeves on Sat May 24, 2014 at 07:16:48 PM PDT

  •  Miss Ebert. Looking forward to seeing Life Itself (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eyo, Mary Mike, Matt Z

    Hey GOP! You'll get my Obamacare when you pry it from my cold, dead hands. And thanks to Obamacare, that just may be awhile.

    by jazzmaniac on Sat May 24, 2014 at 07:46:27 PM PDT

  •  Net Neutrality is of course paramount(sic) but it (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brown Thrasher, helpImdrowning, eyo, coral

    is also symptomatic of the profit-seeking biased toward the dominant distribution firms, even though the international and independent cinema is far more worthy of representation in the plethora of content choices. Unfortunately religion, sports and PPV/shopping seem to pollute our televisions when in fact a major commercial channel could do on a larger scale what PBS does now on such a limited basis in bandwidth division. It's just not enough that I get to see Bunuel once a year on cable

    But what happens if it becomes difficult to stream those independent films? What if independent films, distributed through standalone Web sites or smaller streaming companies, buffer endlessly while content on sites like Netflix, which pay for fast-lane access, loads immediately?

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "If we appear to seek the unattainable, then let it be known that we do so to avoid the unimaginable." (@eState4Column5)

    by annieli on Sat May 24, 2014 at 07:47:53 PM PDT

    •  Closing of DVD rental shops (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      has made Netflix DVD service the only viable place for most people to get access to independent films. And many aren't available through that channel.

      For some films and TV shows, especially foreign-made, the only way to get them is through illegal downloads. I'm not advocating that, but some alternative legal distribution channel must be made available.

      Skepticism of all the elite institutions, not trust, is what required for successful leadership in this era. Digby

      by coral on Sun May 25, 2014 at 06:50:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Oligarchy/Oligopoly at work (4+ / 0-)

    Despite the vast majority of citizens informed on the issue strongly opposed to the 'fast lane' plan the three democrats on the FCC board passed it anyway.

    Honestly there is nothing new here aside from the fact that it is internet is threatened.

    Telecom companies have been using lobbyists and the revolving door to bilk tax payers of hundreds of millions through subsidies and tax breaks as well as protect their monopolies for years.

    A healthy, regulated market would not allow the enormous profit margins seen each year by theses companies. But because of legalized collusion every American, regardless of which company they choose, pays higher bills for phones service, the internet and TV.

    Considering the billions we gave these slimy corporations to build a national fiber optic network, It's time for the FCC to grow some balls.

    We can only hope consumer protection becomes a keystone issue of the 2016 primary because otherwise the industry will keep on using the FCC to screw consumers.

    No-mans-land is a lonely place

    by Bluedawg on Sat May 24, 2014 at 07:51:06 PM PDT

  •  Excellent point!! (5+ / 0-)

    Thanks for bringing this aspect of the issue to the table.

  •  Also for education and for citizenship. (5+ / 0-)

    If one can't access a legislative session or educational videos, one is truly left out of opportunity and involvement.

  •  I call it netrality to make it more/fun (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    helpImdrowning, eyo, Brown Thrasher

    decent wages don't eliminate jobs. Republicans eliminate jobs; and workers, and prospects, and then excuse it all and call for more austerity. there is no end to their ignorant, arrogant avarice. only political dinosaurs support their treachery.

    by renzo capetti on Sat May 24, 2014 at 08:58:00 PM PDT

  •  Some of those films could be documentaries like (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    helpImdrowning, eyo, Mary Mike

    Sicko, The Corporation, The Smartest Guys in the Room, An Inconvenient Truth...

  •  Citizen vs Consumer (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calee4nia, Brown Thrasher

    Many people are not able to transcend a confusion that We The People have gotten into since the rise of mass media and advertising.  The perceived world is one of consumers where citizens struggle to understand themselves and what the difference is.  

    The Cable TV industry and the telecoms have no interest in citizenship.  All of their existence derives from advertising revenue.

    Citizens who are clear have an uphill battle against the whole paradigm that dominates the culture at large.

    In a way, this is a struggle to assert that government by the people etc should be about bringing Constitutional vales into what is essentially a new continent, represented by the potential of the Internet.

    It may be analogous to the debate over whether the West should be free or slave territory.

    hope that the idiots who have no constructive and creative solutions but only look to tear down will not win the day.

    by Stuart Heady on Sun May 25, 2014 at 09:54:30 AM PDT

    •  We Need to Change the Language (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Stuart Heady, Brown Thrasher

      I have noticed this trend of goverment reps and businesses refering to us as "consumers,"  and I think we need to change this because words matter, and the word "consumer" implies that we are viewed as nothing more than mindless eating machines.

      To the government, we should be citizens and constituents.  Remember that and correct it every time you see the word "consumer" used by them.

      To businesses, we should be customers.  Correct them every time you see or hear them use the word "consumer."

      •  Everybody should indeed (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Brown Thrasher

        In his remarks the FCC chair, Wheeler , referred to consumers many times but I didn't hear him refer to citizens.

        This is truly insidious because most people either do not catch this or do not get what is going on.

        We are likely to wake up and discover that, in fact, we are no longer citizens.  

        Many people would be happy with that as they see America as just one big shopping mall.

        Anyone conscious of the difference has to take up the challenge of dispelling this delusion.

        You will find it alarmingly difficult.

        hope that the idiots who have no constructive and creative solutions but only look to tear down will not win the day.

        by Stuart Heady on Sun May 25, 2014 at 02:27:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  This is why this issue hits home for me. (0+ / 0-)

    The Internet is now a necessity for writers (like myself) & other "creative workers" to find an audience. The "slow lane" would cripple my ability to find work in my chosen field.

    (Also, I vehemently agree with several preceding comments about using the right language. Screw "consumer"; I'm a citizen with rights. — & for that matter, creative production is my passion.)

    Stop the FCC from killing the Internet! E-mail them. Call them. Tell the President & your congressmen to help save Internet freedom!

    by Brown Thrasher on Sun May 25, 2014 at 04:44:48 PM PDT

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