Category Archives: Net Neutrality

My Awesome Announcement

I hate tooting my own horn but this is one of the proudest moments in my still short social media law career.  Please forgive the somewhat staged presentation but those who know me know that if I’m going to tell a story I need to make it interesting.

I was at the University of Texas Co-op’s law school location last week browsing the Nutshell books.  (Go with me, people.)  For those of you not in the legal profession, congrats on that by the way, know that the Nutshell series is put out by West Academic (one of the biggest names, if not the biggest name, in the legal publishing world) and is a fantastic resource for an overview of legal issues in a particular topic.  They aren’t casebooks–larger books with often edited cases to look at judicial rulings on certain areas.  Nutshells get right to the point and provide essential information on the overall legal topic.  I used more than one when I was in law school and as a practicing attorney.

But I noticed something was missing from the Nutshell section.  Can you spot it?

Can you spot what's missing?

Can you spot what’s missing?

That’s right, there’s no Social Media Law in a Nutshell.

Let’s fix that, shall we?

I’m proud to announce that I will be writing Social Media Law in a Nutshell for West Academic.  My co-author, Thaddeus Hoffmeister, is a professor of law at the University of Dayton School of Law and has previously published a book on social media in the courtroom.  His knowledge of social media litigation, evidence uses, and applicability in criminal cases will combine with my information on the marketing, content, employment and other social media uses to make this a comprehensive review of social media across all legal channels.

Doing this as a Nutshell book feels perfect right now.  There isn’t a wealth of case law on social media issues, but there are certainly cases out there.  In some areas the most fascinating legal issues are taking place outside of a courtroom so a Nutshell allows us to cover those topics in ways a casebook couldn’t.  Plus, when the movie rights get picked up we all agree that Hugh Jackman can play me.  He’s just a more talented and better looking version of me who can also sing and dance and has a better accent.  The resemblance is uncanny.

I’m not sure when the book will be released but it certainly won’t be until 2015 at the earliest.  Rest assured I’ll let you all know as the process unfolds.

Yesterday I published the 100th blog post here on SoMeLaw Thoughts.  When I look back at how much has changed in social media since I started writing about it, not just my own professional involvement, it’s staggering.  I feel incredibly lucky to take this journey and contribute to the field as well as participate in a line of books that I personally value.  To join the ranks of the Nutshell books blows my mind.

Thanks to all of my readers and friends on social media who have pushed/pulled/heckled me along the way.  An even bigger thanks to my family for putting up with my little side projects.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some writing to do.

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Here’s Why Killing Net Neutrality Makes You Pay Twice

This matters. A lot.

I’m not going to recap the wealth of discussion and debate over Net Neutrality.  You know how to use Google, so use that to find more information.  Or for the most basic of primers check out this great video from the New York Times on How Net Neutrality Works.  It explains the concept well and has some great points from David Carr (who, according to this video, has a head so huge I’m afraid it might snap his neck any second) about controlling content as well as access.

But even if the debate over Internet innovation doesn’t motivate you to take action then perhaps this will.  Killing Net Neutrality will make you pay more money not once but twice.  Here’s how.

First, for the large bandwidth services like Netflix and Hulu and Amazon Instant Video, paying for access will be an absolute must.  Take a look at Netflix’ blog post about why Net Neutrality is important, specifically the second chart which shows what happened when Netflix started paying Comcast for priority access:

Netflix was forced to do this because average Netflix access speed was decreasing to unacceptable levels for Comcast customers.  (This was not happening to customers on other carriers…isn’t that an odd coincidence?)  If they hadn’t paid then customers would be upset.

But where do you think this extra money is going to come from?  Netflix customers, that’s who.  It will either come from their customers in the form of increased monthly rates over time or it will come in the form of less content that Netflix now develops because part of that money is routed to paying ISP tolls.  Either way, this is the first time you’ll pay without Net Neutrality as all the major bandwidth services are forced to incur this expense.

The second way you’ll pay is in the form of reduced access to everyone who isn’t willing to pay.  Maybe the site isn’t large enough to pay the tolls but you really enjoy it–be prepared to have their access de-prioritized in exchange for all the major players.  Or maybe the site simply can’t afford the tolls even if lots of people use it.  Think Wikipedia.

This problem gets worse the more high-bandwidth content is forced to pay for tolls and get priority access.  Of the big three streaming services, you may subscribe to one or none of them–but that won’t stop their content from delaying everything else heading your way.

So you’ll have the privilege of paying a second time for no Net Neutrality.  Maybe you’ll pay to try and get more bandwidth to your house, a method which may not work if the major networks are still crammed with the high-bandwidth priority content.  Or maybe you’ll just pay with your time, waiting longer periods for content that used to be treated equally.  And yes, to paraphrase, time is a form of payment.

If you honestly don’t have an opinion on Net Neutrality, maybe that will connect with you.  Paying twice for a rule change is a pretty bad option compared to everyone participating equally in a single network and everyone having a vested interest in making the entire network run better.  The proposed rules by the FCC kill net neutrality–they hide behind this nomenclature of Open Internet but that is not a Neutral Internet.

All the major technology, content, and social media companies support Net Neutrality.  The big companies like Netflix and Facebook know that a neutral Internet let them become the giants they now are.  The smaller companies know that a neutral Internet is the only way they can compete against their larger competitors.  And technology innovators everywhere know that having equal access is the best way to develop new platforms and software.

Do you know who supports killing Net Neutrality?  The carriers.  That’s it.

If you feel compelled to take action, here’s a great article on how you can submit comments to the FCC while they are still considering their proposed rule changes.

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