AT&T censors Pearl Jam, sparking up net neutrality debate

AT&T censors Pearl Jam, sparking up net neutrality debate

Summary: What does Pearl Jam have to do with net neutrality?After AT&T censored a supposedly live webcast of a Pearl Jam concert, in which Eddie Vedder tossed off a couple of anti-Bush ad libs during a cover of Pink Floyd's "The Wall," the band complained bitterly not only about censorship but about media consolidation and the risks of not having net neutrality.

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TOPICS: AT&T, Government US
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What does Pearl Jam have to do with net neutrality?

After AT&T censored a supposedly live webcast of a Pearl Jam concert, in which Eddie Vedder tossed off a couple of anti-Bush ad libs during a cover of Pink Floyd's "The Wall," the band complained bitterly not only about censorship but about media consolidation and the risks of not having net neutrality.

The band sang "George Bush, leave this world alone" and "George Bush, find yourself another home," but viewers of AT&T's Blue Room live webcast from Lollapalooze didn't hear those lines. The company told the band that their "content monitor" made a mistake in bleeping them.

On their website, Pearl Jam wrote a bitter response:

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."

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..

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.

Public interest groups agree, reports Ars Technica. Here's Art Brodsky from Public Knowledge:

AT&T is really getting into its role as content nanny in a big way. First, it starts monitoring all sorts of conversations for the National Security Agency. Then it promises to work with the movie studios and NBC to come up with some super software to tag copyrighted material that flows through its network, regardless of how that content is used. Now it puts 'content monitors' on its Webcasts.

AT&T responded that the censorship was a mistake -- by a vendor not AT&T -- and that AT&T's own policy is simply not to censor. Spokesman Brad Mays:

[The censorship was a] mistake by a webcast vendor and contrary to our policy. We have policies in place with respect to editing excessive profanity, but AT&T does not edit or censor performances.

Topics: AT&T, Government US

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4 comments
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  • Why can I not post

    ...suddenly?
    wmlundine
  • Please STFU!

    Why is this cry baby running his mouth again. The entire media is Anti-Bush and some people are becoming so infuriated about it that they are boycotting anyone who does it now. Would Pearl Jam like to be added to the list? Pearl Jam might consider themselves lucky that it was bleeped or they might've ended up in another political fickle. Didn't you learn your lesson back in the 90's. Shut up and sing because I don't listen to you for your political views. And btw... Leave Pink Floyd alone... YOU WILL NEVER BE THAT GOOD!
    MALI
    • MALI obviously misses the point.....

      It is not about who you are criticizing or why. It about the freedom to do so.

      Whether you are pro-bush or anti-bush, don't we all agree, as Americans, that freedom of speech is important? And doesn't a larger group of unconsolidated media distribution entities offer more probability of that happening than a single one?

      And finally, hasn't some of the best anti-establishment rhetoric always come from popular music??....why would one threaten another's artistic livelihood based on the traditional use of anti-establishment lyrics in popular music....because oyu don't agree with it???

      ....Ever heard of the Stones or the Beatles?

      I sure am glad MALI doesn't control our access to artistic expression on EITHER side of ANY issue.

      Try to understand your rights.

      See3dee
      see3dee
  • Blamed on a vendor?

    Really now, ATT blames this not on themselves but on a vendor. Notice they did not go into detail about who the offender vendor was and how to get in touch with said company to complain about this censorship.

    The road to hell is paved with good intentions. I for one would rather take my chances in a free country and not ever have me or future generation to endure a US led Nazi Nanny State!
    smarmybastard