A coalition of library organizations has stepped into the legal showdown between the Federal Communications Commission and the telecommunications industry over open internet rules. The groups warn that a ruling favoring broadband providers could harm library services.
As the Federal Communications Commission defends its net neutrality ruling in the courts, it has some big-name supporters from the world of libraries.
On Tuesday, the American Library Association, Association of College and Research Libraries, Association of Research Libraries, and the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies filed a motion seeking permission to file an amicus brief in support of the FCC in U.S. Telecom Association v. Federal Communications Commission, the primary case challenging the open-internet regulations the agency announced in March.
In their filing [PDF] to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the groups emphasized that their goal is to protect library patrons’ rights to access content.
“Without rules banning paid prioritization [of content delivered online], libraries would be significantly hampered in efforts to provide the most vulnerable populations with access to content and services on the internet, including educational resources and nonprofit content,” the groups stated in the motion.
In comments to Law360 [subscription], the Association of Research Libraries’ Krista L. Cox noted that the organizations have a significant stake in the issue, as libraries are service providers much in the way that telecom firms are.
“Libraries don’t just provide internet access to patrons, we also are the provider of content and application services ourselves,” Cox said. “Net neutrality is so important to us both as the providers of internet access for our patrons, but also as edge providers ourselves.”
The library groups are just the latest to file briefs in the closely watched case. Since the U.S. Telecom Association and other plaintiffs filed the lawsuit in April, groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers have submitted briefs supporting the telecom industry argument that the regulations should be thrown out. The new rules designate broadband internet as a utility under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934.
Meanwhile, the Internet Association said it is working on a friend-of-the court brief supporting the FCC, according to MediaPost.