The battle over the SOPA and PIPA bills — the Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect Intellectual Property Act — currently making their way through the U.S. Congress has hit a crescendo. Wikipedia, Reddit and other sites shut themselves down on Jan. 18 to protest the legislation which enables the U.S. government to block public access to any site accused of copyright infringement without their day in court.
Several artists are also now speaking out on the bills that are supposed to be protecting their rights.
Trent Reznor, MGMT, Nada Surf’s Daniel Lorca, OK Go, Amanda Palmer, Erin McKeown and the Lonely Island, the comedic band fronted by ‘Saturday Night Live’s Andy Samberg, wrote an open letter on Jan 17 stating their opposition to PIPA and SOPA.
“We, along with the rest of society, have benefited immensely from a free and open Internet,” the letter says. “It allows us to connect with our fans and reach new audiences. Using social media services like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, we can communicate directly with millions of fans and interact with them in ways that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago.”
The letter also stated that the new statutes could “be easily abused against legitimate services like those upon we depend.”
Radiohead placed a “Stop PIPA” link atop its website today while rock group Circa Survive blacked out its own site in support. “Today we have blacked out our site in protest of SOPA/PIPA,” the band tweeted. “We value freedom of speech far above $.” Placebo meanwhile posed a simple question asking for opinions on the bill via Twitter while OK Go “is offline today, in protest of #sopa.”
Elsewhere, the Flaming Lips changed its Twitter profile picture to a stop sign with “STOP SOPA” written on it and singer-songwriter Butch Walker posted “SOPA” in a tweet with a link to a photo showing a brick wall with a one-way arrow painted on it.
“You know what they say, once you go black… #SOPA,” the Roots’ Questlove tweeted while
Canadian singer Lindi Ortega tweeted a little more bluntly, “Censor the internet??? What is this f-kery all about?”
Disturbed singer David Draiman posted a letter on his position through his Twitter account. “Now with the SOPA and PIPA bills, they seek to extend governmental control to be able to censor free speech and expression on one of the last bastions of that nation; the internet,” Draiman said.
“Don’t get me wrong, I am all for legislation that holds thieves and pirate-ers accountable for their illegal acts; stealing music, movies or any other type of art from artists, without proper compensation is criminal and such acts should come with punishments that fit the crime; including fines, and the suspension/elimination of internet privileges and such.
“I sincerely hope that the legislation is re-written to clamp down on piracy without restricting the freedoms that this country was founded on.”
Meanwhile over 30 music companies have been identified as supporters of SOPA/PIPA, including BMI, CBS Corporation, EMI Music Publishing, MCA Records, Universal Music Group Inc.