Musicians, Artists Make Plea to FCC: 'Protect the Open Internet'

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Common Dreams

Musicians, Artists Make Plea to FCC: 'Protect the Open Internet'

Creative community says proposal for two-tiered Internet means discrimination in what should be "vehicle for free expression."

Image: Free Press

A group of nearly 50 noted musicians, actors and other creators sent a letter Tuesday to the head of the Federal Communications Commission, urging him to "protect the open Internet as a vehicle for free expression and collaboration" and to ditch his current plans they say would kill net neutrality.

Among the signatories are Tom Morello, Erin McKeown, Boots Riley, Michael Stipe, Oliver Stone, Evangeline Lilly and Eddie Vedder.

Open internet advocates have denounced FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's proposal to allow Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to create a two-tiered Internet with privileged access to broadband "fast lanes," thereby ending the democratic nature of an open internet that treats all content equally. Following widespread outcry—including from other FCC commissioners—Wheeler reportedly softened his proposal by seeking comment on whether Internet service should be reclassified as a public utility. Yet critics say the revision still fails to give to "give Internet users the Net Neutrality protections that they demand."

"The open Internet’s impact on the creative community cannot be overstated," the letter, coordinated by the Future of Music Coalition and open Internet advocacy group Free Press, states.

By eliminating barriers, the open Internet has "taken collaborations to new levels. And it has allowed people—not corporations— to seek out the film, music and art that moves them."

"Unless the Commission restores strong nondiscrimination protections based on a solid legal framework, creativity, cultural commerce and free expression will suffer," the letter states.

Therefore, the members of the creative community write, Wheeler should "restore the principle of online nondiscrimination by reclassifying broadband as a telecommunications service."

Wheeler's proposals will be considered at a May 15th FCC meeting.

"The people ARE the Internet," said Brendan Canty of Fugazi, who is also among the letter signatories, in a statement. "Our government needs to hear from us on all fronts: Free speech is not a commodity, it’s a right."

To put an amp to those voices, Free Press has organized a day of action on May 15, both online and at the FCC in Washington, D.C., to save the Internet from the proposed discriminatory rules and to urge for the reclassification of broadband as a telecommunications service. Digital rights organization Electronic Frontier Foundation will also have a tool for those who want to submit public comments directly to the FCC.

"Net Neutrality has become the rallying cry for anyone who believes that creative expression and entrepreneurship must be preserved online," Casey Rae, VP of policy and education for the Future of Music Coalition, said in a statement. "It doesn’t matter if you’re liberal or conservative, superstar or starry-eyed—we’re all banging the drum for nothing less than our right to use our voices in the way that we see fit."

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