Thursday, March 13, 2008

OK Go to Congress: OK Act

Internet phenom OK Go swept through Washington earlier this week urging their fans and Congress to support Net Neutrality -- the longstanding principle that protects our ability to go where we want, watch what we like and connect to whomever we choose on the Internet.

The band's success is a testament to an open Internet. OK Go was propelled to national fame via the popularity of their YouTube videos. One, a treadmill dance along to the song "Here It Goes Again," has been viewed more than 31 million times.

OK Go Goes to Washington

"If people wonder whether the music industry will benefit from Net Neutrality they can look no further than us," said OK Go’s lead singer and guitarist Damian Kulash in testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.

"There really is some consensus here that Net Neutrality is good for music and good for musicians… I’m here to ask you today to preserve Net Neutrality and the openness of the Internet. I believe it's critical to the future of music."

OK Act

After the hearing Kulash and OK Go keyboardist Andy Ross did a brief video interview with calling for support of the Internet Freedom Preservation Act (HR 5353). "Call your Congress person, write to him … and let him know how important it is," Kulash said.

More than 1.6 million Americans have already taken action on behalf of an open Internet. Still, Congress has yet to act to protect this fundamental freedom -- at a time when our Internet rights are under attack from politically powerful phone and cable companies.

OK Go met with Senate and House members to discuss the importance of taking action on Net Neutrality to help foster musical creativity and independence. While sitting down with Rep Ed Markey (D-Mass), co-sponsor of the bipartisan House bill, Kulash and Ross spoke more about their YouTube success.

OK Go With Rep. Markey

"This video certainly would not have gotten out if it weren't for Net Neutrality," Kulash Said. "We're a hard working band. We've played over a thousand shows in America over the last 10 years. The [video] really was the turning point for our visibility. If we hadn't had this opportunity, we wouldn't be here today. There really is some consensus that Net Neutrality is what the music world needs for it to thrive and continue to innovate."

"We really appreciate the work that you have done on the issue, the leadership and the bill that you've sponsored in the House," Ross told Markey. "We hope lots of people get behind it and our fans support it."

Rocking the Net

The band came to Washington to support Rock the Net, a coalition of more than 800 bands that have joined together to support Net Neutrality. The Coalition is a project of the Future of Music Coalition – a member -- which has been active organizing musicians and independent labels in support of an open Internet and against corporate interference.

Future of Music's Jenny Toomey and Michael Bracy have written that for musicians Net Neutrality means "they should have the unfettered ability to make their work available to potential fans without undue interference from corporate gatekeepers."

At Tuesday's House hearing, Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) said: “Congress should act to preserve Net Neutrality. I am concerned that if Congress stands by and does nothing, we will soon find ourselves living in a world where those who pay can play, but those who don’t are simply out of luck."

Performs on Capitol Hill

The bipartisan Internet Freedom Preservation Act is major first step in a forward-thinking communications policy.

Without being strongly regulatory, it modernizes existing media policy to ensure that Net Neutrality protections apply to new broadband services, just as they did to dial-up. It ensures that economic innovation, democratic participation and free speech will continue to flourish across the Internet.

"The Internet has always been a place where innovation and new ideas can thrive, Kulash said while on the Hill. "It's only recently that it's become legal for the big telecommunications companies to try to decide what we can or can't do on the Internet. I think it's important to make sure that we enshrine the level playing field in law so that the Internet will always be the great source of Internet and openness that it has been."