In a surprise turn of events, net neutrality supporters are expressing concerns regarding the equal treatment of all Internet content as being claimed by the FCC. The FCC’s actions are prohibiting paid prioritization of content but failing to prevent BitTorrent blocking. That issue helped the net neutrality debate become a national issue yet it isn’t touched upon. Equally important, net neutrality activists are opposing the “copyright loophole,” claiming the language is too vague and could lead to collateral damage for them.
Geoffrey Manne, executive director of the International Center for Law and Economics and a senior fellow at TechFreedom, told The Daily Caller News Foundation that, “I think it’s very clear from the language that the FCC is aware of the risk of ISP’s claiming the copyright exception as an excuse to block legitimate content.”
“Someone who really wants to use this rule to prevent ISP’s from blocking even illegal content, they’re going to have some trouble with these rules, because the exception is there,” he noted, but added that the FCC could “enforce this in such a way that it could make it very difficult for an ISP to take advantage of that loophole.”
Manne explained, “Bit Torrent implicitly condones the downloading of copyrighted content,” with over 90 percent of the site’s traffic infringing on copyrights, and predicted that under more-ambiguous circumstances, “I don’t think the ISP’s would risk widespread blocking … it’s bad PR.” Besides, he added, “There’s a remedy.” BitTorrent “could go to the ISP and offer to help identify infringing content, or take steps to remove illegal content,” thereby undermining the rationale for blocking the site’s content.
“If anyone is taking the rules on their face to mean there will be blocking of legitimate content, I think there’s no evidence to suggest that’s actually true,” Manne concluded, pointing out that so far, “we haven’t seen much blocking of any content.”