Artists sing out over net neutrality

Wilco, They Might Be Giants among acts on new CD

WASHINGTON -- A group of the nation's hottest new-music talent plans to inject themselves into the national policy debate over the so-called "network neutrality" doctrine by issuing a music compilation in the name of an open Internet.

Such acts as Wilco, They Might Be Giants, Aimee Mann and Guster were recruited by the Future of Music Coalition to release a CD at the end of July that they hope will underscore the importance of the policy debate going on in Washington.

"The Future of Music Coalition Presents: Rock the Net" will be released July 29 and includes work from 15 artists.

Network neutrality is a hotly debated issue that has drawn the attention of Congress and the FCC. Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., have introduced legislation that would ensconce the doctrine in telecommunications and copyright law.

The doctrine basically is a government requirement to ensure that the big cable and telephone companies will treat all Internet traffic the same. Many artists fear that the companies would favor material they have a percentage in or own outright.

Cable and telephone companies contend that the requirement is unnecessary and would impede their ability to manage their networks. They say it allows a few bandwidth hogs to bog down the system for everyone.

The motion picture studios, record labels and songwriters have sided with the network companies, contending that a government-enforced network neutrality doctrine would prevent them from deploying sophisticated piracy countermeasures.

The other acts on "Rock the Net," according to the coalition, are the Wrens, Bright Eyes, DJ Spooky, Vernon Reid, Matthew Ship, David Bazan, Palomar, the Classic Brown, Portastatic, BC Camplight and David Miller.