05 February 2010

Mike Mills and Al Franken on Net Neutrality

In case you have missed this, here’s the video of Mike Mills leading the questions & answers session with the senator of Minnesota, Mr Al Franken. The event took place on 5 October 2009 in Washington DC, as a part of the Policy Summit organised by the Future of Music Coalition, a nonprofit education, research and advocacy group for musicians. R.E.M. have long been involved with the organisation, whose most important crusade at the moment is to preserve the internet neutrality. This is an urgent issue for the entire music community, but especially for independent labels and artists, because the loss of net neutrality amounts to – monopoly. At the moment, the Internet allows all users to compete on an (almost) equal technological playing field with the biggest companies. However, the huge corporations (which own all the major labels, concert venues and promoters, TV and radio stations etc.) are lobbying to change the law and force the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to charge higher prices to content providers – such as musicians and other entrepreneurs. If this law is passed, many smaller operators would be forced into the slow lane of the internet, which would leave them unable to promote their products; as a result, the big sharks would virtually own the Internet. R.E.M. have always voiced their disapproval of monopoly, and Mike Mills’s involvement with this conference will hopefully encourage more musicians to speak up and help prevent passing of this law.

Mr Al Franken’s speech addressed all these issues in a forthright and inspirative manner; he insisted that everybody should have equal access to the Internet, rather than allowing some organizations preferential treatment. He warned against transforming the Internet into a “pay for play arena,” in which the free speech of average Web users would be limited because their sites would load slower. As he put it: “Free speech limited or free speech delayed are the same as free speech denied.” Quite.

Anyway, to cut the long story short, the video clips are embedded below:

Part 1: FMC Policy Director Michael Bracy introduces Mike Mills, then Mills introduces Al Franken
Part 2: Franken’s speech continued
Part 3: Franken’s speech concluded; then Mike Mills interviews him.
Part 4: The Q & A session with the audience

Also, if you are a musician (like myself), don’t hesitate to get involved with FMC! Just fill in this online form and share your thoughts and experiences with the rest of the music world. Spread the word about this too, and invite as many colleagues to voice their opinions on the matter!

Sources: FMC, R.E.M. HQ

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

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