Today Public Knowledge and The Harry Potter Association will submit net neutrality reply comments, representing over 14,000 video creators who are proud believers in an open internet. These signatures were collected through the launch of our website Video Creators for Net Neutrality. After only a few weeks, the site has been overwhelmed with support for this action. Collectively, the video creators are responsible for videos viewed over 14 billion times worldwide. They have signed up to say in one voice: without net neutrality, they would not exist.
The incredible responses to this site are exciting both for net neutrality and for the online video community. By putting their name on the site, the video creators are showing policy makers that an entire community and industry depends on and exists solely because they are allowed unfettered access to the internet. Video creators embody the idea that anyone with access to a camera and a computer can upload their videos, and within minutes share their thoughts, ideas and humor with the world. This website is one of the first times the video creator community has come together for one policy issue that directly affects them.
The creators who signed on to the website and the petition represent more than just themselves. When they signed on, they were encouraged to share their support with friends and followers. By doing so, they attracted the attention of people who might have otherwise not been engaged in protecting net neutrality. Fans even began to tweet directly at YouTube stars to encourage them to be a video creator for net neutrality. Some video creators even made videos to explain and encourage others to take action on this issue.
Video Creators understand how important it is to keep the internet as an open and equal ground to express themselves. As Hank Green, creator of vlogbrothers and Crash Course said, “The open internet is the most fertile ground for art, industry, connection and creation that the world has ever known. Anything that threatens that genuinely terrifies me.”
Video hosting sites have launched careers and projects for many different groups. They have allowed education groups like the Khan Academy to reach and teach thousands for free. They have helped launch countless initiatives for nonprofits, allowing those organizations to visually motivate and recruit support. They are a place where raw talent is discovered and stars grow from online celebrities into writers, singers or actors. In fact, Variety magazine recently released an article that found that these video creators are more recognizable then silver screen celebrities.
If the FCC does not support meaningful net neutrality rules by reclassifying internet access under Title II, the entire concept of online video creators will dwindle. In the current environment, creators only have to compete for a viewer’s attention span – they compete on the merits of their content alone. But if the proposed FCC rules were to be adopted they would have to compete with larger ISPs and established content companies to even reach their audience, much less accrue the degree of viral hits that catapult them to a place where they become legitimate alternative voices to traditional media creators. Access to internet should not be a barrier that many could not, and should not have to, overcome.
Photo Credit Flickr User: Piero Fissore