Killer Mike, Jeff Tweedy of Wilco, Neko Case and hundreds of other musicians and independent record labels have signed a petition appealing the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to keep Obama-era net neutrality rules ahead of Thursday’s planned repeal vote.
“We’ve built careers and big parts of our lives around our passion for music — creating it and connecting with listeners. Today, the internet is one of the primary places this work happens,” it reads. “The fundamental principle of openness online has enabled artists to connect directly with each other and with audiences, empowering us to distribute our work and reach fans in a multiplicity of ways. At its best, the open internet has allowed for a flourishing of diverse voices, allowing to compete alongside the biggest companies, creating connections across geographic barriers, offering choice, flexibility, and creative autonomy.”
Labels Sub Pop, Third Man Records and Secretly Group also signed the letter, along with My Morning Jacket, Deerhoof, GWAR, R.E.M. and YACHT. It was organized by nonprofit organizations Future of Music Coalition and CASH Music.
“To truly make good on the remarkable democratic potential of the internet, the fundamental infrastructure underpinning it all must be neutral and nondiscriminatory,” the petition continues. “Unfortunately, the FCC’s current proposal would amount to a sharp turn in the opposite direction.”
FCC chairman Ajit Pai announced earlier this month the FCC would vote Thursday on overturning the current net neutrality rules implemented during the Obama administration that require internet service providers to treat all web traffic equally. It would also hand over regulatory oversight of service providers from the FCC to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). With Republicans holding three out of the FCC’s five seats, an overturn is expected to pass.
The artists and labels who signed the statement argue that this decision would free corporations like Verizon, Comcast and AT&T to block or throttle certain content or require websites to buy into internet “fast lanes” favoring their businesses over others. Meanwhile, those service providers and Republicans argue that the current rules prevent investment in broadband and say critics’ fears are overstated.
“Allowing broadband providers to control this once-open platform shifts leverage away from individual artists, creators, and small businesses, and interferes with freedom of speech and expression, reads the petition. “Without strong net neutrality protections, digital retailers will have to compete to better meet the needs of the ISPs that can block, throttle, or slow down access to their offerings. These services should instead be competing to better serve the needs of diverse musicians and listeners. Artists and labels’ choices about how and where to bring their work to the market could likewise be constrained by what the ISPs prefer, rather than what works best for their individual business and creative goals.”
Read the statement in full with a complete list of the signees here.