Photo of a Rock en Seine poster in a Paris metro station. The original poster designed for the event was removed, because of a printing error: Amy Winehouse was spelled "Amy Whinehouse." If you're in the city August 24-26, check out the annual concert at Saint Cloud.
Telecommunications giant AT&T is denying it censored lyrics criticizing George Bush during a Pearl Jam performance, blaming the omission on a technical glitch. On Thursday AT&T spokesman Michael Coe said, "Those lyrics in no way, shape or form, are something that should have been edited." But Pearl Jam has a different take on the matter, as reported on their website:
After concluding our Sunday night show at Lollapalooza, fans informed us that portions of that performance were missing and may have been censored by AT&T during the "Blue Room" Live Lollapalooza Webcast. When asked about the missing performance, AT&T informed Lollapalooza that portions of the show were in fact missing from the webcast, and that their content monitor had made a mistake in cutting them.
During the performance of "Daughter" the following lyrics were sung to the tune of Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall" but were cut from the webcast:
- "George Bush, leave this world alone." (the second time it was sung) and
- "George Bush find yourself another home."
This, of course, troubles us as artists but also as citizens concerned with the issue of censorship and the increasingly consolidated control of the media. AT&T's actions strike at the heart of the public's concerns over the power that corporations have when it comes to determining what the public sees and hears through communications media.
Aspects of censorship, consolidation, and preferential treatment of the internet are now being debated under the umbrella of "NetNeutrality." Check out The Future of Music or Save the Internet for more information on this issue.
Most telecommunications companies oppose "net neutrality" and argue that the public can trust them not to censor. Even the ex-head of AT&T, CEO Edward Whitacre, whose company sponsored our troubled webcast, stated just last March that fears his company and other big network providers would block traffic on their networks are overblown.
"Any provider that blocks access to content is inviting customers to find another provider." (Marguerite Reardon, Staff Writer, CNET News.com Published: March 21, 2006, 2:23 PM PST).
But what if there is only one provider from which to choose? If a company that is controlling a webcast is cutting out bits of our performance -not based on laws, but on their own preferences and interpretations - fans have little choice but to watch the censored version.
What happened to us this weekend was a wake up call, and it's about something much bigger than the censorship of a rock band.
To see the video of the Pearl Jam performance, go here.
eBay music sellers beware
Remember how Universal had a video of a child dancing to a Prince song taken down from You-Tube, claiming copyright infringement? Now Universal is being sued by an eBay seller is taking on Universal Music after the record industry giant targeted his online music sales with false claims of copyright infringement.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the San Francisco law firm of Keker & Van Nest LLP are representing Troy Augusto, whose online auctions included sales of promotional CDs distributed by Universal. Augusto does business on eBay under the name Roast Beast Music and specializes in sales of rare and collectible music.
Copyright law's "first sale" doctrine makes it clear that the owner of a CD is entitled to resell it without the permission of the copyright holder. Nevertheless, Universal demanded eBay take down Augusto's auctions, claiming CDs marked as "promotional use only" remain the property of Universal and thus can never be resold.
"When a consumer buys a CD, he gets certain rights, including the right to resell it. Universal is mistaken if it thinks that it can trump these rights simply by putting a label on a CD," said Fred von Lohmann, EFF Senior Intellectual Property Attorney. "Universal is trying to unilaterally rewrite copyright law to the detriment of Augusto's legitimate business and the public. Unless this effort is blocked, it could jeopardize not only sales of used CDs, but also libraries, used bookstores and businesses that rent movies and video games."
In May, Universal filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Augusto. EFF has filed papers in federal court in Los Angeles answering Universal's claims and counter-suing the company for sending bogus "takedown notices" to eBay that resulted in the unwarranted suspension of Augusto's auctions.
Besides pulling the YouTube video because a snippet of a Prince song could be heard in the background, Universal also has made baseless copyright complaints about a video podcast by political blogger Michelle Malkin. Surely Universal has better things to do with its time than chase individuals with baseless copyright infringement charges?
Hooray! Some good news
The day before adjourning for August recess, the Senate unanimously approved S.849, the OPEN Government Act, a bipartisan bill that is the first significant update to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in more than a decade. When Congress returns after is summer recess, a conference will reconcile differences between this bill and similar legislation passed in March by the House of Representatives.
Revelations about the FBI's misuse of a key PATRIOT Act power and other privacy-invasive initiatives clearly demonstrate the importance of government transparency. This law will make it easier for EFF's Freedom of Information Act Litigation for Accountable Government (FLAG) project and other FOIA requesters to keep government accountable to the people.