You may recall a short while back when we told you about Barbershop Punk — a fascinating and entertaining new documentary that looks at the future of the internet as an open platform for free expression.
The film tells the story of software engineer and avid barbershop quartet enthusiast Robb Topolski, whose attempts to track down legally-available, turn-of-the-century barbershop music online resulted in an unsettling discovery: his Internet Service Provider (ISP) was covertly restricting its users’ access to online content.
Faced with censorship by the nation’s largest cable company, Robb found himself at the center of a federal investigation and an unlikely player in one of the critical policy debates of the 21st century: network neutrality — the principle that protects the open internet. Net neutrality means that an ISP cannot block or restrict lawful content, sites and services. It also guarantees all users a voice on the most democratic communications platform in history. Although the internet was built on this principle, ISPs are eager to alter the arrangement.
DC-area peeps will have the opportunity to catch the official world premiere at the American Film Institute’s Silverdocs festival on Thursday, June 24. Showtime is 4:30 PM, followed by a special conversation with the filmmakers (and some very special guests). Tickets are going fast, so grab yours now!
Barbershop Punk features appearances by comedian Janeane Garofolo, Electronic Frontier Foundation founder John Perry Barlow, as well as legendary D.I.Y.-trailblazers Henry Rollins and Ian Mackaye, who describe what it means to be “punk” in the digital age. Check out the official trailer:
Immediately following the Silverdocs screening is a panel discussion featuring filmmaker Georgia Sugimura Archer; film subject Robb Topolski of New American Foundation, WGAW Independent Film Executive Kay Schaber Wolf and Future of Music Coalition Policy Director Michael Bracy. (Michael also appears in the film, so be prepared to swoon.)
FMC supports the establishment of clear net neutrality rules to preserve the open internet. We believe that net neutrality is crucial to a legitimate digital music marketplace where all artists can use this powerful technology without interference from gatekeepers. In 2007, we launched Rock the Net with founding artists like OK Go, Kronos Quartet, Pearl Jam, R.E.M. and more. In a few short months, Rock the Net grew to include thousands of musicians and independent labels. In the most recent FCC proceeding on net neutrality, we assisted musicians from all backgrounds in telling the Commission how they use the internet in their lives and careers. And we’ll keep fighting to keep the internet open for everyone — from fan to artist to Barbershop Punk.