Digital rules of the road key to National Broadband Plan



The Internet must be a safe and secure environment where the protections provided in the offline world, exist in the online world, too.  This will benefit consumers as new digital offerings flourish, and it will safeguard creative industries, like the movie business, which alone employs 2.5 million Americans in all 50 states.

Contrary to the headlines surrounding the most successful summer blockbusters, most movies don’t make their money back at the box office.  They require DVD, home video and a legitimate Internet market to recoup their investment—precisely those markets most vulnerable to piracy.  Given the intent of Congress in asking the FCC to develop this plan—to stimulate job creation and economic growth—the Commission should advise Congress to encourage best practices for online content security and technological innovation to protect copyrighted materials.

Our industry is committed to providing consumers with diverse and exciting online choices.  Both full-length movies as well as popular TV shows are available online to rent, view or download to own.  Multitudes of partners are devoted to online distribution and more consumer choices become available virtually every day.

As we look to the future, it’s important that the US lead by example and ensure property rights are a cornerstone of our nation’s broadband plan.  Many countries, such as the UK and France, already are moving ahead.  And, we don’t want to repeat the mistakes of countries like South Korea, where super-fast broadband—in the absence of common-sense content protections—has led to a tidal wave of piracy.

It’s important that we press forward with innovations that can help.  Existing technologies are useful but rudimentary compared to possible future developments.  It is critical that the Commission not stunt the development of dynamic, next generation technologies and the positive outcomes they can help us achieve in advancing broadband and digital economic opportunities, hand-in-hand.

Chairman Genachowski himself summed up the dilemma in his confirmation hearings in June. “Illegal copyright infringement,” he said, “is a threat to the creativity that our copyright laws are designed to protect and encourage, and a threat to a significant contributor to our economy and U.S. global competitiveness.”

That’s a clear statement of the problem—and the opportunity—if we get the rules of the road right at this critical juncture for U.S. broadband leadership.   Only robust infrastructure and sensible safeguards together can achieve Congress’ goal of driving American innovation, economic growth and consumer choice for many years to come.  It’s time to seize the moment.