Brooklyn Journal of Corporate, Financial & Commercial Law


Aaron Lerman


The 2015 Open Internet Order, released by The Federal Communication Commission (FCC), introduced sweeping, new rules that promised to preserve an equal and open Internet to consumers. These rules, otherwise known as “Net Neutrality,” prohibited broadband and internet service providers from impairing, blocking, or throttling access to “lawful content” online. But with a new administration and agenda, the FCC’s 2017 Restoring Internet Freedom Order repealed Net Neutrality. Since then, various states have pushed back against the repeal, with some adopting their own versions of the 2015 Open Internet Order’s Net Neutrality, keeping most of the rule language intact, including the “lawful content” distinction. As a result, unlawful content is not subject to Net Neutrality rules and providers are free to block access to such content. But difficulty lies in the classification of content as lawful or unlawful. This Note contends that large-scale copyright infringement such as digital piracy falls under the unlawful content category. With the proliferation of the Internet, digital piracy has taken a large economic toll on American media, leaving the private and public sector without a long-term, efficient solution. This Note argues, whether Net Neutrality survives at the federal or local level, that internet service providers are within their legal rights to block and impair access to digital piracy sites, applications and other unlawful content online.