Netflix is fighting a much bigger fight than online piracy right now, they are fighting against the anti-competitive business practices of Comcast and Time Warner. Ask my childhood cable provider that I don’t even remember the name of what it’s like to go up against a corporate giant like Comcast. If you can find them, I’m sure they’ll have nothing good to say about the giant company that put them out of business, created a monopoly, and eventually got deregulated by the state’s government. Shortly after the deregulation, a few towns signed contracts with Comcast that allowed them to keep their monopoly, despite the ruling. To this day Comcast continues to fight against their customers, and have bent us over further with their fight against net neutrality.
Netflix is a company that relies very heavily on user’s bandwidth to provide content to their customers. Say what you want about some of the frustrating decisions they have made there, but fair and unfettered access to the internet is essential to their business model. Comcast has been implementing bandwidth caps in certain areas, and would like to expand this practice to all of their coverage areas. Someone who watches a lot of high-def movies on Netflix may eat through their allotted bandwidth very quickly. Comcast offers their own on-demand service, but it is on a different communications layer than the internet, and does not count against the customer’s bandwidth cap. There shouldn’t have to be a SuperPAC to fight against anti-competitive practices like this, there are already laws that make this illegal. Comcast gets away with it because of the contributions they make to the politicians that fight on their side.
I can understand why Netflix has remained neutral towards SOPA/PIPA, given that they have a relationship with Hollywood and they have to constantly play the politics game with them. Hollywood has Netflix by the balls, so it’s a feat of courage in-and-of itself for them to remain neutral, but coming out against anti-piracy legislation could make their lives very difficult.
I will be following the progress of FLIXPAC very intently, as I believe it is going to be more focused on equality and neutrality, rather than on anti-piracy efforts. Hollywood needs to understand that it is services like Netflix that are actually preventing piracy, and get on board. We need to stop over-reacting to everything Netflix does and realize that unlike Comcast, they are fighting for us.
Full disclosure: I am a Comcast customer. They have not instated bandwidth caps in Michigan yet, and I believe we have laws in place that prevent them from doing so. They currently have the most open and fastest network in my area, and as long as things stay that way I will continue to use their service. However, I do hope to see more options springing up in Detroit in the near future. (FiOS ANYONE? PLEASE!)