Without free speech, copyright protection is meaningless. The two rights are critical to artists and combined have proven to be a powerful force for social justice around the world. That is why we consistently and openly advocate for a fair and open internet that champions free speech as well as respect for authorship.
Throughout history artists have been on the front lines fighting for political and social causes by directing their creative efforts towards fueling movements and documenting injustice. The front lines have moved online, but that has not stopped repressive regimes from putting those they disagree with behind bars. Our internet freedoms are meaningless if those who populate the web with their work are imprisoned for political crimes.
We invite all those who advocate for internet freedom to join us in urging the release of two songwriters:
Two songwriters in Vietnam used their music to encourage greater freedom of expression and nonviolent protests against a regime that regularly imprisons those who speak out against it. According to the Washington Post, Vo Minh Tri (who also goes by Viet Khang) and Tran Vu Anh Binh were sentenced to prison on Tuesday, for four and six years, respectively. The charges leveled against them – spreading propaganda against the state – were the result of songs they wrote that are critical of the Vietnamese government. According to the Wall Street Journal, the songs gained attention after they were uploaded onto YouTube.
Yesterday, the U.S. State Department released the following statement calling for the release of the musicians:
“This is the latest in a series of detentions and convictions in Vietnam against those seeking nothing more than the peaceful expression of their views. This latest example of the Vietnamese authorities restricting freedom of expression is inconsistent with international standards. Given the recent worsening of the human rights situation in Vietnam, we urge the Vietnamese government to acknowledge and remedy this situation, including through the release of these musicians, and all prisoners of conscience, as well as adherence to its international obligations immediately.”
We encourage artists and creators, as well as anyone who has shared a link, signed a petition, or blacked out a website in support of internet freedom, to exercise your right to free speech and share the plight of Vo Minh Tri and Tran Vu Anh Binh with your friends, your community and your elected officials. It can be as simple as sharing on social networks a message of support like: I support #freespeech4artistsonline. Free songwriters Viet Khang and Tran Vu Anh Binh from prison, or follow their lead and use your creative talents to create your own song, short story, poem or video message to share with the world. Use #freespeech4artistsonline