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Musicians protest loss of net neutrality

By | Published on Thursday 15 May 2014

Future Of Music Coalition

Lots of famous musicians, not least Michael Stipe, have added their weight to the ongoing net neutrality debate in the US, which is back in the news because America’s media regulator the FCC is reviewing its internet rules following a court battle with net giant Verizon.

The basic principle of net neutrality is that, as data moves over the net, all data is treated the same oblivious of origin. Some in the net sector want to offer a virtual fastlane, which would give data from certain sources – ie companies or institutions who pay a premium – priority. But there are plenty of opponents to that idea, including the stack of artists who have put their names to an open letter written by the Future Of Music Coalition to Tom Wheeler, chairman at the FCC.

The note, which also carries signatures from Fugazi, Eddie Vedder, Jeff Magnum, Tune-Yards and Tom Morello, urges Wheeler and the FCC to re-think the new set of rules it’s due to consider later today, after a leak of current proposals suggests the FCC, previously a supporter of net neutrality, is about to change its stance. The Future Of Music Coalition argues that the new proposals favour big corporations and “telecom giants”, leaving “individual artists and creators” in the cold.

The final bit of the letter, which is printed here in its entirety, reads: “Your proposed path would open the door to widespread discrimination online. It would give internet service providers the green light to implement pay-for-priority schemes that would be disastrous for start-ups, non-profits and everyday internet users who cannot afford these unnecessary tolls. We urge you to scrap these proposed rules and instead restore the principle of online non-discrimination by reclassifying broadband as a telecommunications service”.