Pearl Jam‘s Eddie Vedder, Rage Against The Machine guitarist Tom Morello, Michael Stipe of R.E.M. and many other musicians and creative artists have signed a letter in favor of keeping net neutrality, the policy that makes the Internet a level playing field for all websites. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is considering a change in the rules that would allow corporate behemoths like Comcast and Time Warner Cable to demand extra fees from websites for faster download speeds, potentially allowing discrimination against online content that is not able to pay for special treatment.
According to Spin, the letter reads in part, “”The open Internet’s impact on the creative community cannot be overstated. The Internet has enabled artists to connect directly with each other and with audiences. It has eliminated the barriers of geography and taken collaborations to new levels. And it has allowed people — not corporations — to seek out the film, music and art that moves them.”
- The proposed changes have already faced such backlash that FCC head Tom Wheeler — a former lobbyist for the very companies that would benefit from the changes — has been tweaking the plan in hopes of getting it approved.
- A vote was scheduled to be held by the FCC commissioners on Thursday (May 15th), although it could be delayed.
- Other artists who have signed the letter include Neko Case, filmmaker Oliver Stone, Avengers star Mark Ruffalo, Jello Biafra, Kimya Dawson, Fugazi, Kronos Quartet,David Lowery, OK Go, Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry, Jill Sobule, Lost star Evangeline Lilly, comedian Judah Friedlander and many more.
- Independent record labels also have come out against Wheeler’s reported proposal. The American Association of Independent Music said in a May 5th FCC filing that creating fast and slow lanes for Internet use would make it harder for the labels to connect with fans.
- The Future of Music Coalition and Free Press, two nonprofit advocacy groups that organized the letter, said that Wheeler’s plan would allow telecom giants “to pick winners and losers online and discriminate against online content and applications.”
- Wheeler has called the campaign “misinformation” and has insisted that the rule change wouldn’t allow “behavior harmful to consumers or competition by limiting the openness of the Internet” and would not disadvantage the websites that can’t afford to pay extra.