Entertainment industry players including Trent Reznor, Amanda Palmer and OK Go have written and published an open letter to Washington expressing their concerns about SOPA/PIPA, the pending Congressional bills that would give the government and corporations the ability to shut down web addresses that contain copyright infringements. The letter–which also bears the signatures of producer Hank Shocklee, comedian Aziz Ansari, author Neil Gaiman, and filmmaker Lloyd Kaufman–was published on Stop the Wall, a website created by Engine, an advocacy group for small technology businesses.
An excerpt from the letter:
“As creative professionals, we experience copyright infringement on a very personal level. Commercial piracy is deeply unfair and pervasive leaks of unreleased films and music regularly interfere with the integrity of our creations. We are grateful for the measures policymakers have enacted to protect our works.
We, along with the rest of society, have benefited immensely from a free and open Internet. It allows us to connect with our fans and reach new audiences. Using social media services like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, we can communicate directly with millions of fans and interact with them in ways that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago.”
As website blackouts persist today in opposition to the legislation, with major sites across the Web following in the footsteps of Wikipedia and Google, the artistic community’s participation has been growing exponentially over the past few days. Although the bills are being presented in Congress as a means to protect the creative rights of artists, musicians like Peter Gabriel and MC Hammer have also added their voices to the Internet-wide protest.
Gabriel, one of the first artists to declare solidarity with the opponents of SOPA/ PIPA, has blacked out his personal website for the day, leaving a message that reads, “This year is going to be a very crucial year for the fate of digital rights and freedoms on the Internet. We strongly support the campaign against both the Protect IP Act and the Stop Online Piracy Act. For that reason our website will be down today in support of the campaign.”
Even independent-label artists have spoken out, despite a writ published by indie label advocacy group A2IM (the American Association of Independent Music) that indicated its support of the bills’ intentions (if not outright the bills themselves). Radiohead has posted an Anti-PIPA bar across the top of their site, while indie duo Wye Oak directed fans towards opposition petitions.
Hip-hop and electronic artists from all over the map voiced their opposition as well. Rapper MC Hammer has been posting anti-SOPA messages on Twitter throughout the day as well, tweeting, “[This is a] terrible bill for writers, vloggers, artists, and musicians! #BlackoutSOPA.” MC Hammer was one of the first artists to use the Blackout SOPA profile picture-changing service and encouraged others to do the same. Theophilus London, the Roots’ Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, A-Trak and Benny Benassi have tweeted their opposition to the bills, as well.
This morning, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), co-sponsor of the anti-piracy bills, released a statement via Facebook officially withdrawing his support of both. In response, American techno pioneer Moby tweeted, “I’m glad the Internet piracy acts seem to have been defeated. Even Marco Rubio sounded surprisingly sane today.”