"Deeply disappointing": AIM voices concern over net neutrality repeal in US

AIM's Paul Pacifico has expressed concern that the FCC’s decision to repeal net neutrality rules in the US will negatively impact the independent sector, which has been thriving on digital platforms.

Internet Service Providers will now be able to speed up or slow down data from different companies. Critics say the US decision will make the internet less open and favour large corporations.

Paul Pacifico, CEO of the UK indie labels body, told Music Week: “It is deeply disappointing to read the report that net neutrality rules in the USA have been overturned. AIM stands in support of our colleagues and friends in the independent music community at A2IM in the States who have voiced very real concerns about the impact of this decision.

“Attempts to develop competitive markets in services that operate as full or quasi monopolies such as utilities, railways or in this case, ISPs, seldom have good outcomes for entrepreneurs or indeed for consumers. They instead tend to wholly favour big business unless detailed regulation with cast iron powers stands in their way.”

He added: “The impact over time in the USA is most likely to be felt through the increased dominance of the big players who will be able to afford the inevitable price hikes to maintain access to higher speed delivery of content.

“The independent players, niche specialists and innovators are in danger of being starved out which cannot be good for the proliferation of cultural and commercial diversity online. We are looking carefully at the knock-on effects these changes will have on the landscape in the UK and will be advising members of potential impact to their businesses over time.”

There have been protests about the ruling by the FCC, which is already facing legal challenges.

Spotify, Deezer and SoundCloud recently launched lobbying group Digital Music Europe to campaign on issues including net neutrality and the open internet.

Horacio Gutierrez, General Counsel at Spotify, tweeted: “The dismantling of net neutrality protections by the FCC is disappointing and misguided. It threatens the open internet and the wave of innovation and opportunity it created. The real legal battle begins today.”

Helen Smith, IMPALA executive chair, commented: "Without net neutrality there is no equal access to high-speed networks and other essential technical features. The change of rules in the US will place smaller operators at a disadvantage, when what we need is a level playing field. Fortunately the EU has strong net neutrality rules in place which will help preserve some of the internet’s fundamental principle of openness."

A2IM, the American Association of Independent Music, said it was “extremely disappointed” in the FCC’s decision to repeal net neutrality rules.

CEO Richard James Burgess said: “This decision will disadvantage all the small and medium-sized enterprises, including the ones that make up our membership, and will negatively affect innovation. This is a fundamentally anti-democratic action that will have unintended consequences for the American economy for decades to come." 

Deezer also expressed concerned about the ruling: "We consistently aim to provide music fans with the best possible experience, so we are saddened to hear that the decision has been made to end net neutrality. Ultimately this will be very negative for consumers and will impact creativity and innovation on the internet. We are hopeful that the FCC will overturn this decision and we will do everything in our power to help keep the internet a free and open place for all". 


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