Growing the Movement To Save the Internet with Moby, REM and Others

An unsuprising coalition of musicians has come together under the banner of Artists and Musicians for Internet Freedom to support network neutrality legislation. Strangely, the group doesn’t have a website yet, though REM’s website has an announcement about it, and explains the issue rather succinctly:

Net Neutrality is the long-held principle that all online speech is treated equally. It levels the Internet playing field, ensuring that small music blogs and independent news sites open just as easily on your computer as large corporate sites. It allows every voice to be heard by thousands, even millions, of people.

Other artists who have joined the coalition include Moby, Wilco, Q-Tip, Trent Reznor, the Indigo Girls and the Dixie Chicks.

This morning I participated in a Free Press-sponsored conference call about this coalition with Moby and Rep. Ed Markey, who is sponsoring the Save the Internet Act of 2006.

I asked Moby how established artists like himself would be affected if network neutrality isn’t written into law. He was honest in admitting that a well-known musician would be much less affected than an independent artist who relies on the internet to distribute her music and network with fans. But he also reflected that his best-selling album, Play, wasn’t an immediate hit, but rather gained popularity partially due to grassroots momentum on the internet.

Moby also told the conference that he had done a radio interview earlier in the day where he was explaining his position on net neutrality. He said that the internet basically “works well as it is” and so that’s what we need to preserve it, in order to avoid a “high-tech oligopoly” controlled by the big telcos, like AT&T and Verizon.

While it does seem somewhat predictable for left-leaning artists like Moby, REM and the Indigo Girls to get on board with the SaveTheInternet coalition, I think it does help bring the message to contituencies who haven’t heard of the issue at all. It’s not about “reaching out to young people,” (and it’s debateable how young these groups’ audience is these days) so much as communicating to a wider swath of the internet population. Outside my little bubble of the blogosphere I’m reminded that most people–even those who are pretty plugged in to news and politics–are simply unaware of this issue.

Rep. Markey said that he saw a marked difference in support for his net neutrality provision within the House Energy and Commerce committee just during the time that the bill moved from the Internet Subcommittee to the full committee. He credits the grassroots mobilization on behalf of net neutrality to help change how the issue is being viewed in Congress. While the provision didn’t pass, the telecom bill it was going to be attached to is now held up, with the House Republican leadership trying to figure out how to play it in light of increasing public awareness.

Frankly, without the grassroots effort the big telco lobby sets the agenda and the framing of the issue, because that’s who our Congresspeople hear from most regularly and vociferously.

I’ll play some brief excerpts from the call on tomorrow’s radioshow.


2 responses to “Growing the Movement To Save the Internet with Moby, REM and Others”

  1. RedBankTom Avatar

    I think Net Neutrality can be fought for at the local, state and small town level; without the need for new federal legislation. I am trying to raise the question of Net Neutrality during AT&T’s and Verizon’s applications to operate IPTV cable franchises. I think municipalities should consider a telco’s stance on Net Neutrality when deciding if they should grant a cable TV franchise.

    I’m pushing my small jersey town to question Verizon’s position on Net Neutrality, you can read about it by checking out my simple blog at: and I encourage others to do so as well.

    Thanks – Tom
    tom@redbanktv dot org

  2. Paul Avatar


    The problem you might face is that the purpose of the COPE act and a similar Senate bill is to take away that negotiating ability from municipalities.

    If these two “reform” acts pass, cities will have no negotiating power with Verizon and AT&T when they want to build out IPTV services. Cities won’t have the ability to demand net neutrality — there will just be a national franchise.

    So if network neutrality provisions are not contained in the COPE act, then say “bye bye” to net neutrality.


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