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Look out, FCC: R.E.M., Aerosmith, Jello Biafra, 57 others join net neutrality crusade

The 'creative community' speaks: Don't let corporate honchos 'pick winners and losers online'

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Pity poor FCC chairman Tom Wheeler. Not only does he have some corporate heavyweights such as Verizon and Cisco opposing net neutrality and others such as Google and Microsoft supporting it, he now has another group voicing its concerns: rockers, poets, actors, and other members of "the creative community."

"The open Internet's impact on the creative community cannot be overstated," a group of 60 such worthies wrote in an open letter to Wheeler on Tuesday. "The Internet has enabled artists to connect directly with each other and with audiences."

The group – which includes such diverse creatives as Fred Armisen, Mark Ruffalo, Jello Biafra, and Wallace Shawn, along with members of Aerosmith, The Black Crowes, Pearl Jam, Pink Floyd, and the Kronos Quartet – cited the internet's ability to transcend geography and enable collaboration as some of its contributions to humanity.

"And it has allowed people — not corporations — to seek out the film, music and art that moves them," they write.

Corporate control of the internet is not in the interests of the broader public, they argue. "Unless the Commission restores strong nondiscrimination protections based on a solid legal framework, creativity, cultural commerce and free expression will suffer."

These opinions are just the latest in the ongoing net-neut squabble, a dispute that has roiled the interwebs since the middle of the last decade, and which is again coming to a head, with a pronouncement on the subject from Wheeler expected soon.

Of course, as with any such matter, there have been no shortage of opinions over the years provided by any number of public figures of different stripes. By way of review, The Reg fired up Google and tracked down some other opinions from members of the entertainment industry – and, yes, being cynical hacks, we defined that industry very, very loosely.

Here, in alphabetical order, are a few prominent opinion-flingers. Let us know in Comments with whom you may agree, with whom you don't, and who you think strains credulity to the breaking point.

Michele Bachman: "This is the Obama administration advocating censorship of the Internet. Why? They want to silence the voices that are opposing them."

Glenn Beck "The FCC will just regulate the Internet. They'll just take it. They don't care. They will make Congress irrelevant, and they'll regulate – everyone, including people at the NAB. Including broadcasters I respect, including, I think – to include the broadcasters I respect – Bill O'Reilly. All of them. Everyone. Don Imus."

Noam Chomsky: "The internet is, technically, free and open, which is a good thing – and I hope it stays that way – but you can't overcome the fact that concentrations of power have ways of directing use of the internet towards their own concerns and interests."

Al Franken: "The idea of net neutrality is not to have the government 'regulate the internet'. It's to keep the internet open, so that we still have the innovation and investment we've had in the past."

Rush Limbaugh: "This is about the Feds wanting to control the Internet just as they control the public airwaves. They want to be able to determine who gets to say what, where, how often."

Mary Bono Mack: "...an unaccountable FCC, which meets with special interests in private, will be able to craft rules to benefit politically favored companies that can afford expensive law firms so that they can gain competitive advantages. Are you angry? You should be."

John McCain: "This government takeover of the Internet will stifle innovation, in turn slowing our economic turnaround and further depressing an already anemic job market."

Bill Moyers: "The largest and richest providers, giant corporations such as Verizon and Comcast – in mid-takeover of Time Warner Cable — like the idea. They could afford to buy their way to the front of the line. Everyone else — nonprofit groups, startups and everyday users – would have to move to the rear, and the Net would be neutral no more."

Barack Obama "We can't have a situation in which the corporate duopoly dictates the future of the internet and that's why I'm supporting what is called net neutrality."

Surprisingly, we were unable to turn up any opinion on the subject from Ted Nugent, but we're willing to be that his opinion is a wee bit to the right of Noam Chomsky's. ®

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