Live@DC Policy Day: The Open Internet, Music and Innovation

Live event coverage.  Live stream transmission.

The Open Internet, Music and Innovation



Primer: The advent of broadband changed everything we thought we knew about music — particularly how recordings are distributed, promoted and accessed. While some traditional business models have been upended by the internet, the technology has been a boon to independent musicians who rely on the web to do everything from connecting with fans to booking shows to selling merchandise to collaborating with other artists. Over the past decade, Future of Music Coalition has followed these developments closely, while advocating for a legitimate digital music marketplace that compensates creators. With the open internet driving innovation, we’re just beginning to see what a world of fully licensed music services might look like. Yet some would prefer innovation on the web to be left solely to market forces, with little to no regulation to establish rules of the road for Internet Service Providers. Join us for an interactive discussion featuring policy experts, musicians and you.


  • Jonny 5 emcee, Flobots
  • Rick Carnes President, Songwriters Guild of America
  • Markham Erickson Holch & Erickson LLP + Executive Director, Open Internet Coalition
  • Chris Guttman-McCabe VP, Regulatory Affairs, CTIA – The Wireless Association
  • Gigi B. Sohn President, Public Knowledge
  • Amy Schatz Reporter, The Wall Street Journal (moderator)

Oversight needed?

Chris Guttman-McCabe:  The internet is working.  A reasonable debate – what did Comcast do, and was it reasonable?  It took 2.5 years – do we really want a process like that?  If it takes 2.5 years to get through ‘a pretty simplistic case,’ it doesn’t work.  Not ‘rallying against internet freedom,’
more it’s about handing over control to the FCC.

Gigi Sohn: This is a process by which consumers can make complaints if ISPs are making preferential decisions.  Currently, ‘consumers have absolutely no place to go.  There are issues with end-to-end delivery of content.  ‘The reason we want to preserve the internet, because the ISPs haven’t had the guts to go ahead with their business plans…’

Chris Guttman-McCabe:  Actually, there is a great deal of prioritization, based on bandwidth.  So, one rule
is that they cannot degrade VoIP, often to the detriment of other services.  ‘Networks are managed so that consumers have a reasonable experience’…  if ‘4 or 5 want to download
a hi-def video, you are impacting someone else on that network,’ so ‘making it jsut work’ means that there has be priortization of stuff on a regular basis.  And ‘deep packet inspection’ also involves sifting through to fine spyware, adware, etc.

Markham Erickson: This is a very complex issue, but networks are being managed, and that is a good thing.  We don’t what to see quality of service turn into ‘decreases of investment into
infrastructure,’ and we want ‘what Chris’ member companies are doing’ to make things happen.  But, when you favor or prioritize some pieces of data over another, you ‘are degrading other traffic’.  ‘you can’t make something faster than light speed,’ so other stuff goes to the back of the line.  But if that turns into providers paying for that priority, that’s an issue.
‘That’s what we oppose’.

Rick Carnes: Raises CDNs.

Markham Erickson: Content Delivery Networks.  they are in a fundamentally different than ‘last-mile ISPs’ that deliver access to CDNs.

Jonny5: I don’t see any other option than going for full internet neutrality, interruptions or  compromises are often blamed on the band.

Amy Schatz: Is there a way to have a priority service, with really high-quality concert experiences, ‘is there anything to that?’

Jonny5: Other artists are looking at that, not us really right now.

Gigi Sohn:
 No problem with EDGE providers that provide a better experience, more concern on the ISP level.  Also, no problem with consumers paing more for more for bandwidth – one way we don’t want to skin the cat – is by giving the bottleneck keeper the power to control your experience.

Chris Guttman-McCabe: In a perfect environment, that may be possible.  But, with 20-30-60 mm customers, the notion that
customer is going to determine what to prioritize is impossible.  For example, cell phone networks are constantly making adjustments to see which cell site you are using – everyone
affects the capacity of that cell site.  Just like ISPs.

What about small businesses – uses example of mushroom salesperson in Pennsylvania.  “I don’t think that person is at risk..”

We ‘want to move from 2nd generation, to 3rd, to 4th generation,’ while pointing to cellular moves to analog, digital, 3G.. which eventually led to explosions in apps.

Amy Schatz:What about transparency?  how can consumers know what is going on?

Chris Guttman-McCabe: There’s a high degree of agreement for the need for transparancy.

Rick Carnes: Lots of tools to test your internet connection.  But if you have a problem, who do you go to,
and who do you trust to solve the problem?

Worst thing you really hate to hear, ‘trust me,’ start running.  Has a problem with the FCC, ‘aren’t these the guys that censored everything?’, and ‘now we’re being told to trust them?’

Gigi Sohn: FCC move to title II is a great move, it shifts move towards the ‘on-ramp’ and less towards content like ‘wardrobe malfunctions’ and Bono swear words.  Then the
FCC is saying they are going to shift towards inrastructure.

Rick Carnes: I thought a lot of net neutrality is also about content?

Gigi Sohn: Not about content at all.

Question from the audience.  ‘Open internet’ and ‘net neutrality’ are not the same thing.  Issues of open internet service are far broader, but the broader issue is ensuring internet access of all Americans without interference.

Gigi Sohn: That is the problem with protests against the third way.

Rick Carnes: Lots of sampling comes from a ‘fear of a blank page,’ and that as a creator ‘I should control my creation’ including sending it to others for use in gratis situations.  ‘I’ve had to make my living using a blank page,’ needs more protection for first-order creation.

Jonny5: No problem with others using material, would rather ‘let us all be more free’.

Question from Michael Pettricone.  Line between first-order creation and secondary not that black-and-white.  What about earlier creators – Johnny Cash, and others? 

Rick Carnes: It’s not a fuzzy line, it’s a very bright line.  Can only protect my own creation.

Question: Conventional wisdom that AT&T inferior to Verizon, consumer perception.  But, where is the concept of competition in the discussion of favoritism for various content providers – wouldn’t consumers make the choice?

Gigi Sohn: Series of regional duopolies, and ‘wireless is not yet a substitute’ for wired broadband.  The speeds are not there, and ‘there isn’t the competition,’ moreover ‘switching costs are high,’ citing AT&T cancellation fee.

Chris Guttman-McCabe: No hard-and-fast examples of people in the wireless space acting improperly, and if they do, you have an alternative.

Markham Erickson: Wireless providers have been opening up, and wireless provider decides how open their networks can be.  But, why so much difference between the closed wireless systems and computers?

Chris Guttman-McCabe: 9 operating systems already in existence, lots of competition.  (Markham disagrees).

Gigi Sohn: FCC opened phones to ‘non-harmful’ devices like answering machines, PC modems, etc., that opened up so much innovation.

Rick Carnes: Urges balance between the FCC and ISPs.  Notes that FCC offers lots of trust problems (‘wardrobe malfunctions,’ Howard Stern, etc.).  Also, mentions that piracy has not been addressed at all really on the internet.