Our reply to large cable and wireless companies in FCC's Open Internet proceeding; we won't just take your word for it

Today we filed our reply comments in the FCC's Open Internet proceeding.  We focused on a series of claims by broadband providers that are simply not supported in the record, and amount to a "take our word for it" approach.  As with our initial comments, our goal is meaningful, defensible protections for the Open Internet under Title II of the Communications Act.

1) Large broadband provider claims that competition alone will protect the Open Internet lack any reliable data to back up this claim.  In fact, some key data providers rely on expressly says it is 

2) Large broadband providers' claim that Section 706 is ample authority, and Title II is unnecessary.  They make this argument because they know that 706 is so weak that they will be able to challenge and likely win against any kind of meaningful enforcement of Open Internet policy by the FCC.

3) Large broadband provider claims that Internet access is the same as the information services and content that pass through the network are technologically inaccurate.  Now is the time for FCC to correct this definitional error and stop allowing broadband providers to circumvent the plain language meaning of what is considered an information service.

4) FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has said there is "only one Internet."  Large broadband provider claims that mobile broadband and fixed broadband should have significantly different rules goes against the idea of one Internet, and network management exceptions handle any variations in the two technologies.

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New Media Rights joins the Internet Slowdown: a protest to protect the Open Internet

This week we'll be submitting detailed reply comments in the FCC's Open Internet proceeding, providing detailed legal, economic, and cultural reasons, from the standpoint of internet users independent creators why the Open Internet must be preserved.

Those legal arguments are about to be filed, but today New Media Rights joins the Internet slowdown, a large coalition of organizations and individuals that want to protect and preserve the Open Internet. If you don't want your favorite websites to look like the loading icon below, join the #InternetSlowdown.




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Help us reach our next 1000 clients!

New Media Rights

We've provided free and nominal fee legal services in over 1000 matters since 2008! These 1000 matters include creative projects, free speech, nonprofit services, and job-creating business ideas that may die on the vine, or be the victim of improper censorship without these services. But we can't do it without your help!  We're asking for your donation now to ensure our services will be available to the next 1000 clients who need it.

Your donation will help ensure we have the resources to reach a wide variety of clients to provide critical legal services. Clients much like Anita Sarkeesian. Here is her story of how we helped her fight improper takedowns of her pop culture critiques.  

To help us reach our next 1000 clients, please click here to donate. Then, if you're in San Diego August 21, come celebrate with us!

We'll be featuring more stories from a variety of creators, entrepreneurs, and even law students who support our work in the coming weeks over social media.

In addition to our one-to-one work, we've produced 150 educational videos that have received over 290,000 views! We've helped create public policies that improve our ability to access and remix the world around us, and to have control of what information and services we can access through new technologies like smartphones.  
We've been able to support this work with grants from the California Consumer Protection Foundation and the City of San Diego, but we're still independently funded, so we need your support today to help ensure our services will be available for years to come.

This summer, we're asking you to show your support for New Media Rights with a donation.
If you donate at least $250, your name will go on our Sustaining Donors Wall!

When you donate, you're making sure that the next generation of creators and innovators have access to quality, affordable legal services.

Make your donation by clicking here!

New Media Rights #Oneof1000 Celebration
Our #Oneof1000 celebration features unlimited tacos, video and photo booths, 3-d printers, and a chance to meet a fantastic array of creators, entrepreneurs, and attorneys.  

Get your tickets now!

What else we've been up to in recent weeks: Protecting an Open Internet, fair use, and copyright reform

The creators and disruptive startups we work with rely on an open Internet, and we're fighting to protect the open Internet as an engine for creativity and innovation. Just in the last few weeks, we've filed comments in the FCC's Open Internet proceeding urging the FCC to use its TItle II authority to protect the basic tenets of an Open Internet.  We also wrote an article summarizing a few of the most outlandish claims by broadband providers in that proceeding that appeared on Techdirt.

In addition to our work protecting an open Internet, we recently filed an Amicus Brief in Capitol Records v Vimeo with allies to protect fair use.  We also participated in USPTO / Department of Commerce roundtables in L.A, where we argued for reforms to copyright law to protect remix creators and consumers.
Politifest, San Diego
Politifest is a family-friendly festival featuring community booths, activities, music and food. This year the goal is to set aside some of the politics that divide us and celebrate the many diverse neighborhoods that connect San Diego residents to one another. Come check out our booth and meet some of the NMR community. The event will be held Saturday August 3ed from 10AM to 2PM at Liberty Station in San Diego.

Useful guides - The NMR website has all kinds of guides and videos to help artists and creators, here's a few that can help you while you're out there creating.

New Guide explains your rights as a fan fiction writer in Kindle Worlds!

Fine print to plain english: things to look out for as a Kindle World author

How can you support independent creators and artists?

Please remember New Media Rights is an independently funded nonprofit program and relies on the support of individuals like you to provide free and low cost legal services to internet users and creators.

We accomplish a great deal on a modest budget, so any donation makes a huge impact for us.You can make a donation to support legal services and advocacy for internet users and creators by clicking here. Please also make sure to connect with New Media Rights on
 Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.
Thanks again for being part of the New Media Rights community. Keep an eye out as our future battles and work on behalf of internet users and independent creators continues.

All the best,

Art Neill, Teri Karobonik, and the New Media Rights team


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New Media Rights joins global coalition of access to research, science and education organizations to call on STM to withdraw new model licenses.

Today, New Media Rights joined a global coalition of access to research, science and education organizations to call on STM to withdraw their new model licenses.  The new model licenses are not only largely incompatible with other open licenses systems but are also internally inconsistent. This new licensing system will also likely cause substantial confusion and do more to impede the flow of critical scientific research than it will to foster knowledge.   Finally the new licenses will also create substantial legal uncertainty, which could only be resolved through costly litigation in multiple jurisdictions all around the world.

A complete list of signatories as well as the full letter can be found here.

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Broadband industry to American public: “Who needs open Internet rules when you can just take our word for it?”

by Kyle Reynolds and Art Neill

Hundreds of thousands of concerned citizens recently asked the FCC to protect the open Internet, but broadband providers filed comments that are the hundreds of pages equivalent of “take our word for it, everything will be fine” or “move along, nothing to see here.” In preparing our reply comments to the FCC’s open Internet proceeding, we’ve been examining the most recent comments of the big fixed and mobile broadband providers like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T.

What we found could be striking or completely obvious, but is probably both at the same time. Broadband providers primarily occupy themselves with aggressive posturing and finger-pointing aimed at content providers like Netflix and backbone providers like Cogent and Level 3. The big industry players’ comments also make clear that the big broadband providers apparently do live in an alternate universe to most Americans.  In this universe, the vast majority of Americans can easily switch between an ample number of broadband providers on a whim, and where any real rules to protect the open Internet as we know it are unnecessary because… well, because… just take our word for it.

Here are some of the lowlights:


"If a provider were to block or degrade Internet applications or content, the provider would incur substantial subscriber losses and reputational harm. Thus, in order to undertake such a strategy, a broadband provider would first need to conclude that any theoretical benefits of the strategy outweigh these very real costs." (pg. 6)

  • Ok, a couple points here. First, the basic assumption that this argument relies on is that subscribers actually have another provider to switch to, which many people who live in Comcast territory know is simply fantasy. That said, the point about reputational harms also seems to ignore the fact that broadband providers are already considered the worst companies in America. Subscriber bases and profits are maintained due to these companies entrenched, excessive market power, not customer service. But then, I suppose you can’t blame Comcast for trying: They were neck and neck with Monsanto this year (http://consumerist.com/2014/04/08/congratulations-to-comcast-your-2014-worst-company-in-america/).

After discussing at length the importance of a mercurial, end-around category of “specialized services,” and why the FCC should properly leave them beyond the scope of Open Internet rules, Comcast states, “While it is unnecessary to impose additional mandates on specialized services, the Commission should clarify the definition of specialized services to provide increased certainty regarding the scope of its open Internet rules.” (pg. 30, emphasis added)

  • Comcast’s argument here can best be summed up as follows: “Specialized services are perhaps the greatest thing we have ever thought of, and the FCC has wisely chosen to not regulate them. By the way, what are specialized services anyway?” If you’re confused, you’re not alone.

Who’s next?


“A policy of impeding access [instituted by a broadband provider] to services customers wish to access would only push those customers to other providers. Other ISPs face the same incentives. Under these – in which users demand access to all lawful content and ISPs are committed to fulfilling customers’ needs – there is no need for a prescriptive no-blocking rule.” (pg. 26)

  • Verizon asks that we set aside any silly preconceived notions we may have about the lack of alternative providers (discussed above) and how poorly broadband providers have been known to respond to their subscribers (Matt Stone and Trey Parker may have summed it up best already: http://southpark.cc.com/clips/qblqju/the-cable-company-runaround), and then essentially says that we hardly need rules in place when we can just take their word for it.

"Just because the Commission could prohibit such practices [such as blocking or degrading content] in some contexts, does not mean that it should do so at the present time and instead could wait to see whether any such theorized harms actually materialize." (pg. 37)

  • Translation: Just because the Commission could stop us from experimenting in ways that break the open Internet to extract more money from both content providers and our subscribers does not mean they should do that. Instead, why don’t we wait to even think about doing anything until we’ve locked in business practices that ensure the open Internet as we know it disappears?

"Applying Title II to the American broadband industry would be like tying a cinder block to the ankle of an Olympic sprinter in the midst of a race and then wishing her luck." (pg. 50)

  • You should first know that Verizon spent a fair amount of time making accusations that proponents of Open Internet regulations are “sensationalistic”, “superficial”, and spouting “politically motivated fantasy.” Sadly, the only “fantasy” here is that Verizon likens the American broadband industry to an Olympic sprinter. It is more akin to Godzilla: more prone to simply crush the competition than to race against them.


“To engage in end-to-end prioritization of Internet traffic across connecting networks, it would be necessary to have a system coordinated among edge providers, backbone providers, and ISPs to mark certain packets for priority and to handle them accordingly. No such system exists today.” (pg. 18)

  • AT&T may be right that no such system of coordination between edge providers, backbone providers, and ISPs exists today, but that overlooks the reality that broadband providers have already found a better way to achieve this goal while also cutting out backbone providers: Directly connecting to edge providers, like Comcast has done with Netflix. Not only that, but cutting out the middle man (backbone providers) has an added benefit for last-mile providers (like Comcast and AT&T) in that it cuts off revenue sources for backbone providers (as edge providers rely on their data transport services less often), weakening them and making them more susceptible to increasing demands from the last-mile broadband providers like Comcast, Verizon, AT&T and others.

The FCC has an opportunity here to spur competition and innovation, but it starts with recognizing that “take our word for it” and “move along, nothing to see here” are not the cornerstones of a framework to protect an open Internet.

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NMR files comments urging the FCC to protect the Open Internet

Today, New Media Rights joins hundreds of thousands of consumers, creators, and businesses in filing public comments about the future of Internet.  The Federal Communications Commission now has an opportunity to choose a communications future of innovation, creative exchange, and consumer choice, rather than one where powerful broadband Internet companies can alter the Internet to support entrenched business models.

Specifically we are urging the FCC to reclassify broadband internet access providers as common carriers subject to Title II of the Telecommunications Act, and to reconsider its recently proposed Net Neutrality rules. Preserving an Open Internet is one of the most important social, economic, and legal issues of the twenty first century. It is critical that the FCC have the authority to protect it, and then that the FCC actually uses its authority to enact and enforce rules that uphold the tenets of an Open Internet for years to come.

In our filing, we stressed several important points:

• Broadband internet access speeds and quality in the United States are lagging behind the rest of the world and broadband internet access providers have no motivation to innovate and improve access because they do not compete. The FCC must have the authority to address issues raised by these powerful, entrenched broadband internet access providers.
• American innovators, creators, and consumers need world class internet speeds and quality at affordable prices or their ability to do business and compete in the global online marketplace will be severely limited.
• Broadband internet access providers have already taken actions that violate accepted tenets of an Open Internet (Transparency, No Blocking, No Discrimination), such as Comcast’s throttling of Bittorrent data, and AT&T’s sponsored data plans for mobile broadband.
• The FCC must reclassify broadband internet access providers as common carriers if it is to have any hope of having the authority to pass the kind of rules necessary to protect Net Neutrality.
• Reclassification of broadband internet access providers as common carriers, and consequently reclassification of broadband internet access as a “telecommunications service” as opposed to an “information service” (which it is currently classified as), is necessary because internet access is a distinctly different service from other “information services”. Broadband internet access has been wrongly grouped together with services that like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and others and have thus been able to maintain enormous market power while being subject to very little oversight.
• The FCC must reconsider its proposed rules, because do not adequately protect key tenets of Net Neutrality. The “No Commercially Unreasonable Practices” rule in particular must be revisited in order to bring it more in line with its much more effective 2010 version – “No Unreasonable Discrimination” – in order to ensure that broadband internet access providers cannot abuse their power by discriminating between those who are willing or able to pay for faster access to end users and those who are not.

Again, New Media Rights urges the FCC to take advantage of this important opportunity to ensure that America’s internet ecosystem will remain free to create, innovate, and thrive long into the future, rather than captured by business practices of entrenched broadband internet access providers.

Read the entire comment here

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Fine print to plain english: things to look out for as a Kindle World author

Photo Courtsey of  Jemimus Attribution 2.0 Generic

With books like Fifty Shades of Grey flying off the shelves, the question of the commercialization of fan fiction is once again at the forefront. While fan fic authors have been steadfastly devoted to their art since before the Internet, emerging technologies have brought about new scrutiny to what this community really means for traditional media giants and who, if anyone, should be able to profit from fan fiction.

About a year ago, Jeff Bezos decided to set aside some digital real estate just for the fan fic community. Amazon’s Kindle Worlds is an e-book publishing platform for fan fiction, and works like this: Amazon partners with copyright owners, like Alloy Entertainment, who license to Amazon its fan fiction publication rights. These licensors are known as “World Licensors,” and by licensing their “World,” fans can create and profit off of their fan fiction through a royalty system.

Among the first “Worlds” that made up this new universe were CW’s Gossip Girl, The Vampire Diaries, and Pretty Little Liars. Kindle Worlds has since added G.I. Joe, Veronica Mars, and seventeen other Worlds. The question is, why would readers buy works from Amazon when there is an endless supply of free fan fic from other Internet sites? Fanfiction.net, for one, is the world’s largest fan fiction archive and forum where writers and readers come together to do just this. The recently launched Archive of Our Own (created by the Organization for Transformative Works) is another space online where fans have come together to share their  fan faction and other original fan works in a non-commercial space.

The difference of utilizing the Kindle Worlds platform has been boiled down to three main points: (1) monetization for authors (each e-book costs between $0.99 to $3.99, but this is set by Amazon); (2) does not require constant Internet connectivity; and (3) a minimal level of quality that Amazon ensures by having final say on what will be made available. See Kindle Worlds Publishing Agreement Section 7(c).

On that note, we’re going to get real with the Kindle Worlds Publishing Agreement. Here’s what we found to be important to keep in mind if you are, or are considering to become, a Kindle Worlds author.

The Benefits and Disadvantages of Using Kindle Worlds

Exposure to Amazon’s User base. As a fan fic writer on Kindle Worlds, you get exposure to Amazon’s vast audience and user base. That said, you cannot market and promote yourself as being affiliated with Amazon or the original licensor. Also, make sure you’re only including up to 20% of your creative work (for free) on your website or blog to promote yourself as an author on Kindle Worlds. See Kindle Worlds Publishing Agreement Section 10. If you don’t abide by these rules, do not be surprised when Amazon ceases publication of your work (or removes it altogether).

Opportunity to earn money. By submitting a creative work to a World(s) of your choice, Amazon will pay royalties to you for all copies sold. The standard digital royalty rates are broken down between works of over 10,000 words (35% of net revenue) and short works of between 5,000 – 10,000 words (20% of net revenue). Net revenue is based off the gross amount Amazon actually receives from the sale, less returns, half of Delivery, and other factors. See Section 5(a) for the full definition. Also, if you have a problem regarding the royalty payments, make sure to speak up within six months after the date the statement is made available; otherwise, you may not be able to resolve past royalty mistakes. See Section 5(e).

Quality control. As a Kindle Worlds author, you will be held to Amazon’s quality control regulations. This means making sure there are no typos, and ensuring correct alignment, formatting, and linking across Amazon’s many products and services, i.e. Kindle devices, Amazon.com, iOS, Android, and reading apps. It’s easy to submit your stories online, and you have access to Amazon’s free programs and services to design covers or enhance your work’s quality. Keep in mind that each of your submissions will be additionally subject to that particular World’s guidelines. See Section 7(a).

Amazon usurps all your creative rights. By submitting a story to Kindle Worlds, you grant Amazon Publishing an exclusive license to your work for the term of the copyright. This includes global publication rights on any new elements you’ve created. Amazon can then use your ideas to make more money, i.e. licensing your work to others for a fee, and does not need to compensate or even notify you of this Further, Amazon has reserved the right to create movies, TV shows, games, merchandise, and other works based on your Kindle Worlds submissions. If such a future deal is struck, you’ll simply continue to get royalties from sales of your fan fiction but not these other deals. See Sections 4(a) & (b). Keep in mind that because this right is exclusive, you will not be able to create anything associated with your work other than more written fan fiction; this includes any related merchandise, outside fan art, and even YouTube spin-offs!

No crossovers allowed. Although you may have written an epic Veronica Mars/Gossip Girl crossover, you won’t be able to publish it on Kindle Worlds for now. Amazon is currently trying to get content owners on board with the idea of mixing and matching across Worlds, however, so stay tuned.

Amazon can use your name and “likeness.” Depending on who you are, this may be either a benefit or a disadvantage. In any case, it is worth noting that by using Kindle Worlds, Amazon may now use your name, information, and “likeness” worldwide for any purpose in connection with your work and participation in their platform. For example, say Amazon wants to promote its fan fic platform and your work is particularly popular and representative of its success. Under this provision, it can now blast out your name and photo in its newsletter or post a video interview of you on its website.

You waive some other pretty important rights. In order for Kindle Worlds to function the way Amazon ideally envisions it, participants must waive any legal claims that pertain to their rights being infringed from any use of their work. See Kindle Worlds Publishing Agreement Section 6. Translation: don’t complain how Amazon, copyright owners, or other fan fic authors use and contribute to your work because you have essentially contracted away the right to fight back against any reuse of your work that you don’t like. 

Key Points to Consider Before Entering this Alternate World

As an author of Kindle Worlds, you are promising that you are the sole owner of all rights to your work and that none of it violates any law or regulation. See Section 12(a)(1)-(3). By extension, if a third party brought a claim against you, saying that you did not have all the rights required to make your work (because so much of it has been “borrowed” from people other than the original content creator ), this will all be on you. Moreover, Amazon may hold all royalties due to you until such issues are resolved, and if necessary, require you to return any applicable payments. See Section 5(f)(2).

If Kindle World’s limitations and regulations don’t stifle creativity by their mere breadth, they can be seen as a careful, first step toward clarifying the role of commercial fan fic in society. But like many first steps, Kindle World’s isn’t without its stumbling points, points which can hopefully serve as lessons for future creators and entrepreneurs in this space.


Irene is a second year law student and is based in San Diego, California. She received her BA in Media Studies at Scripps College and her MBA at KAIST Business School in Seoul, South Korea, with an emphasis in IT & Media Management.

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New Media Rights #Oneof1000 Celebration

Are you #Oneof1000?

New Media Rights was founded on the idea that legal services provided for the good of the public should take into account not only the financial need of a client, but the social good generated by the client’s activities.  As part of that mission New Media Rights provides direct legal services that help hundreds of people every year. Earlier this summer we passed the 1000 mark, that is to say we’ve provided direct legal services in over a thousand matters since 2010! And we think a little celebration is in order!

In order to celebrate we’ve got two big things planned. 1) A campaign we’re launching to get the word out about just how many people we’ve helped and grow our supporter base, and 2) a celebration we’re inviting you to August 21st at our new headquarters. 

You can go here to make a donation to support our work for our next 1000 clients.

You can get tickets to the August 21 event here.

We're celebrating both our past accomplishments as well as some of our amazing accomplishments this year including:

#Oneof1000 and Supporter campaign

Are you one of the over one thousand people we’ve directly helped? Maybe you benefited from one of our educational guides online, a workshop we gave, or one of our policy accomplishments? Maybe you cut your teeth as a law student here at NMR?  If you were helped by NMR in any way, or just want to show your support for our work we’d love you to share this milestone on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, your blog, Instagram, Vine etc using the hashtag #Oneof1000.  Not sure what to share? Here’s a sample tweet to get you started.

I am #Oneof1000 creators, startups and internet users helped by @newmediarights free & nominal cost legal services!http://goo.gl/sVV0cz

And if you want to support NMR even more, please consider becoming an NMR supporter today! It’s donations like yours that allow us to reach amazing milestones like this.

#Oneof1000 Celebration August 21 at CyberHive in San Diego!

But we’re just not having a celebration online; we’re having an IRL party to celebrate. Join us August 21 at 6pm for a celebration of the work we’ve done and the work we’ve yet to do. More details to follow, but early planning meetings indicate a strong possibility of special guests and some seriously legit tacos (Art Neill, our Executive Director, knows someone who knows alguien)!   Your #Oneof1000 posts may even make an appearance!

We’ll be offering tickets to the event for a nominal fee (to cover food and drink) through Eventbrite. More information about the event can also be found on the Facebook event page, but you'll still need to buy your ticket through Eventbrite.

Eventbrite - New Media Rights #Oneof1000 Celebration


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New Media Rights @ VidCon 2014!

New Media Rights is excited to announce that we’ll be returning to VidCon 2014, THE conference for YouTubers. VidCon will take place at the Anaheim Convention Center June 26-28. And this year you’ll have a chance for a double dose of NMR copyright YouTube goodness!

If you’re attending the industry track, catch Executive Director Art Neill on the “Copyright on YouTube?” panel at 3pm Thursday in room 213.  In addition to Art, the panel will feature in house council from innovative companies like Corridor Digital and Loudr.

If you’re attending on the community track, you'll also have a chance to catch an awesome panel on copyright entitled appropriately enough “Copyright on YouTube” at 11am on Friday in room 202. Jon Bailey, the voice of Honest Movie Trailers will moderate the panel which will focus on the practicalities of copyright on YouTube.

So if you’re at VidCon, please stop by and check out these amazing panels!

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Executive Director Art Neill to speak on user-generated and "fan" content at Copyright Society of the USA's Annual Meeting

New Media Rights Executive Director Art Neil will be speaking on a panel Monday June 8 regarding user-generated content and fan productions at the Copyright Society of the USA's 2014 Annual Meeting.

Here are the details

Crowd-Sourced Editorial Content and Fan Productions

The panel will explore new business models that have arisen that allow IP owners to profit from crowd- (or fan-) sourced content while more fully engaging their fans and expanding their audience of consumers. Each panelist will focus on a particular entertainment industry. Art Neill of New Media Rights will explore film and video production, including the impact of YouTube’s Partnership and Content ID/monetization programs, Gregory Boyd of Frankfurt Kurnit will focus on videogames and machinima, and Matt Bloomgarden of Alloy Entertainment will discuss publishing projects such as Amazon’s KindleWorld. The panel will also examine other online businesses that seek to leverage fan interest in generating new content in ways that offers benefits to both the IP owners and the fans. Finally, the panelists will discuss copyright and other legal issues that these new business models present as well as challenges that IP owners face from the growth of user-generated content featuring their properties without their involvement or consent.


Jay Kogan, DC Entertainment



Matthew Bloomgarden, Alloy Entertainment, A Warner Bros. Entertainment Company
S. Gregory Boyd, Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz, PC
Art Neill, New Media Rights

For more information about the Copyright Society of the USA's Annual Meeting click here.

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