Lessig: What YouTube teaches us about Net Neutrality

Lawrence Lessig has an op-ed in the FT today. He uses the YouTube story to make utterly plain why we should care about the outcome of the Net Neutrality debate — competition, access, innovation, creativity, just for starters. He writes:

“YouTube could beat Google because the internet provided a level playing field. The owners of pipes delivering video content to users on the internet did not prefer one service over the other. The owners of pipes simply passed the packets of data to users as the users chose. No doubt Google and YouTube worked to make that content flow as fast as possible by buying caching servers and fast connections. But once it was on the internet, the network owner showed no preference, serving each competitor equally.

“Network owners now want to change this by charging companies different rates to get access to a “premium” internet. YouTube, or blip.tv, would have to pay a special fee for their content to flow efficiently to customers. If they do not pay this special fee, their content would be relegated to the “public” internet – a slower and less reliable network. The network owners would begin to pick which content (and, in principle, applications) would flow quickly and which would not.

“If America lived in a world of real competition among broadband providers, there would be little reason to worry about such deals. But it does not live in that world. …” Read on!

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