Content Neturality

For so many years, the hoopla was the “evil” ISPs and how they have charged customers or throttled their Internet traffic because they are subsidizing big companies. The theoretical, but unconfirmed claim that “a future Facebook” cannot be created under the current climate of the free market system. Laws created by the Obama administration lead to a “Net Neutrality” regulations that the large Internet Service Providers had opposed to.

To make it simple, it would enable ISPs to not discriminate traffic, and allow people to use the Internet for whatever they wanted. Especially if the ISP is unable to handle the out of control nature since after all various apps use various “ports” (like pipe valves), and the Internet travels from one ISP to another (splitting valves) and most of the “speeds” the ISP touts is at the “last mile” (those metallic boxes with a power meter) that could range from five customers to over a hundred possibly sharing that same fiber optic link. It’s at this point where it converts to coaxial to your house. Since routers and switches are like computers moving files from one network to another; such anarchy could put the networks at risk for failure, crashes, etc.

This is an simplified definition.


But that is not the problem. The problem lies on the content providers. This includes social networks like Facebook, and social media sites like Facebook, Google’s YouTube, Twitter, Facebook’s Instagram, etc.

Creativity is at greater risk, not getting your download faster than you wished. Internet content companies have gotten to the point where they are a major media platform. As a result, these argumentatively newer mainstream media platforms is bound by the standards set by lawyers these days. Also these companies are picking and choosing who will be the next social media star.

YouTube has departed in so many ways away from their Broadcast Yourself  days. YouTube originally created in a Silicon Valley pizza shop, on the second floor, originally had webcam content from users. While some took advantage and exploited the ability to post old and vintage TV programs, and very frivolous clips like station IDs and promos – these were in the eyes of lawyers for at least a couple of years. Very early on, lawyers for CBS was very fixated on taking down a number of very whimsical promos from WCBS-TV in the mid 1970s, the WCBS-TV Celebrates New York campaign. (The cynical side of me thinks it wasn’t because of “infringements” but moreover that they were ordered by the suits to cover up better content unlike what airs on CBS 2 New York today.) Worse, Viacom, owned by the long time geriatric Summer Redstone, had not agreed to a license agreement about a decade ago and forced YouTube to remove any Viacom-owned content for a number of years.

Then came 2015 and 2016.

Copyright laws were changing for the worse; Happy Birthday is still copyrighted even though the original songwriters passed away many, many ages ago. Pandora was under pressure to pay more royalties, and with the advancements of artificial intelligence and algorithms brought new things to “content creators”. Content ID.

This means, that virtually any song that isn’t open sourced under Creative Commons or an actual public domain song can be used in multimedia in the social media world. For many years, YouTube and Facebook would remind users before uploading to not post “copyrighted” content; but a vast majority of decent users would use the “fair use” defense, if there is even such.

Facebook started to implement this last year and typically you get a cutesy statement of a failed upload stating that such work “that belongs to someone else”. And recently, Facebook even identifies the music. YouTube will now flag any audio it can figure out and ether ban it altogether by muting the audio (typically if it’s a Warner label); take away ad revenue on that particular video and the money goes to the artist/label (that’s fine), or depending on the country you live in, ban it by your IP address.

This makes the digital rights management the icing on the cake if you are a lazy executive in Hollywood, since Hollywood doesn’t want people to do anything but watch or listen to the work at home.

The original intent of copyright was to encourage creativity by building upon [within reason] with the intent to respect the artist. And this is where ASCAP and BMI is supposed to come in, but with the recent changes to a now global rights system, it may only be the third world where they could hear works, and the developing nations will be banned.

Hollywood likes to make movies targeting Wall Street or anything to do with capitalism, but their actions sure as hell make them do everything they condone in the film and TV space.


But far reaching copyright rules isn’t the only problem, it’s the simple idea to get “seen and heard”; it is very hard build a Facebook page and try to drill down on all the data to see who is following you, where they are, how they landed on you, what did they search,what did they click, etc. YouTube is a little easier, but still too many drill downs and really the app-y interface makes my life a living hell as my CPU cycles go through the roof. And the cynical side of me thinks this is by design to enable people who have such tolerance to non user friendly interfaces to engage.

Facebook requires you to have a mobile number to add a handle. So yet another company has a number more vulnerable to ID theft than say my Social Security number. YouTube is even worse, in order to have a handle in the URL, I have to have at least 100 followers, plus the very high resolution “channel art” (which is larger than a 1080p TV screen) and that’s hard to scale to see on a desktop.

Social media providers are using criteria to see who will make it or not. And for the people who are doing it out of their hearts, is more of “work” than for fun, because of the inabilities a user can enjoy, if the rules were not so stringed.

The most recent example was Eli the Computer Guy, once a platform to learn IT skills. Many of his early videos going as far back as 2009 (and I discovered him in 2012) on 60 minute lessons on the said subjects. But he was in some identity crisis in 2014/15, then evolved to doing live shows, then went into the wilderness, to suddenly in early 2017 doing “Geek Sexy News”. Apparently in some of his live shows, he talked about the Baltimore saga, and some thin skinned “special snowflake”-type must’ve hit the trigger. He is a very successful YouTuber, with millions of views and hundreds of thousands of followers. For someone so successful, one hit shouldn’t take him down right?

Wrong!

In many of his 2016 videos, he had stated that he had sudden “purge” of followers; had to contact Google Corporate to resolve a single video that caused his entire YouTube page to be flagged; to the point where he went back to civilian level, having 15 minute limits of what he could post. The “Geek Sexy News” is now a result to Google’s immaturity of dealing with a high profile YouTuber who is punished to someone like your’s truly, just another guy on the web. Now how is that fair for him? While Eli could move forward with his Geek Sexy News portal; how many others can successfully move away from the chains of Google?

The question is can you? Well if you hate YouTube and Facebook so much, can you legally build your own platform? Well that problem goes back to copyright laws, the Digital Millenium Copyright Act; and the egregious lawyers that are involved in “protecting” the brands of Facebook, Instagram and YouTube alike. If I built a Facebook from a decade ago (the days when the profiles and pages didn’t act like apps), I probably would be taken down, because even if I “reversed engineered” how a Facebook type of service works; that’s most likely a violation of copyright or Intellectual Property laws.

While these companies have given in to Big Hollywood, they themselves do not want to see people move from another service, a service where hey – someone could pay and help a startup be more valuable as opposed to just a single source revenue. Even better, let the users upgrade to being a customer and pay a fee to store more stuff and allow to use copyrighted content without them having to go through the struggles of getting an ASCAP license.

Even if I banded together and took an opportunity of a new startup, it most likely would get squashed – by the IP bullies out west for most likely “stealing an idea” even though the idea isn’t well documented to be “copyrighted”.

The content providers are having the control of what content can be posted, allowed, what people can or cannot say; what they can or cannot be allowed to do, etc. And if you thought the Time Warners and AT&Ts were bad, all they are trying to do is make a buck on their investments of their Layer 4 and 5 routers and switches from years ago.

Even eBay has gotten so far from reality. But that will be it’s own story for it’s own day.

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