ComiXology’s Parent Company Amazon Supports Net Neutrality

amazonAlong with over 100 tech companies, Amazon has sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) demanding Net Neutrality protection. What does this have to do with comics? Amazon will be acquiring comiXology, the leading digital comics platform, and since the parent company supports the position, there’s a good chance everyone under the umbrella has that position now. Amazon is joined by companies such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, Netflix, Ebay, Reddit, Automattic, Yahoo, Kickstarter, and more.

But, what is Net Neutrality?

There are many different definitions of what exactly Net Neutrality is, but it’s basically the ability to the go where you want and do what you want on the internet without extra charges, artificially slow accessibility or even blockages.

Net Neutrality protects us the consumer as well as the content creators themselves. It stops internet providers from slowing down, degrading, or even blocking content or access to online content. When over 70% of Americans have only one option for internet providers in their area, this is a big deal.

If you still don’t understand what this is all about, here’s a handy video explaining it all.

Why should comic consumers, creators, and publishers care?

comixology small imageLets start with why consumers should care. We already pay content providers for content (either directly or through ads). We also pay internet service providers (ISPs) to deliver that content. We pay ISPs more than much of the world for slower speeds. If the internet becomes pay to play with fast lanes, and slow lanes, costs will increase, service will decrease. Us consumers will be foot the bill one way or another. It’s only been a few months since the FCC’s original Net Neutrality rules were struck down and ISPs are already play games with throttling speeds and extorting demanding cutting deals to increase speeds, see exhibit A, and exhibit B.

The comics digital world is still relatively new. There are a handful of really solid services, with only a few standing out. To make sure innovation continues, we need an open internet so that new services have a chance to flourish, not be killed by fees, or becoming unusable due to throttling. Comic publishers, and creators need Net Neutrality to ensure what they create can get to consumers unfettered. If costs were to increase due to this (or even broadband caps become common and prohibitive) consumers will watch what they do online, killing a growing important segment for our industry and hobby. The next digital platform might not happen and creators and publishers might need to spend more to deliver content to consumers.

This goes beyond just the comics we read, but all online content surrounding our community. Marvel has new television series that have yet to debut on Netflix, there’s numerous movies based on comics that are streaming, or ready to download. Websites like ours, forums where many discuss the latest news, sites like DeviantArt, or YouTube, these are all at risk in an internet that’s not protected. Our community might be drastically altered, our communication tools crippled, and costs increased to enjoy the same things we enjoy today. And that’s not even thinking about the new technologies, websites, and communication tools that haven’t even invented or launched yet.

Net Neutrality is needed to keep the internet a free and open platform for innovation and expression.

What can we do?

There’s a lot you can do to help, and anyone who cares needs to take action and speak out.

1) Take action on make your voice heard by emailing Congress, the President, and the FCC. You can do that through this handy form here.

2) Tell your friends, family, coworkers, fans. Share that action above, and get them to speak out too.

3) We’re putting together a coalition. Like the letter sent to the FCC by tech companies, we want to deliver a letter to the FCC saying how without Net Neutrality, speech, and creativity will be stifled. If you’re interested in participating, please contact us.

Senator Al Franken has said it best. Net Neutrality is the “free speech issue of our time.” Without it, the next big tech idea might never happen, and the internet as we know it will cease to exist.

Full disclosure: I act as the Advocacy Director for the Entertainment Consumers Association