(Wired) After hearing Sen. Ted Stevens’ now infamous description of the internet as a “series of tubes,” Andrew Raff sang the senator’s words over a folksy ditty and anonymously posted it to MySpace, where about 2,500 people listened to the tune, thanks to a link from one of the net’s top blogs. On Tuesday, MySpace canceled the TedStevensFanClub account, telling Raff that MySpace, now owned by media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., had received a “credible complaint of your violation of the MySpace Terms of Services.”
Mystech: Say it isn’t so! Uber hip mecca MySpace is being controlled by evil, crusty adults? That is sooooooo lame!
The e-mail referenced a number of prohibited activities, including trademark and copyright violations. MySpace also reserves the right to remove any profile for any reason.
But Raff, a recent graduate from law school, didn’t violate any copyright laws in using the Alaskan senator’s words since government works can not be copyrighted. And he composed the music himself.
Raff doesn’t contest MySpace’s right to enforce its terms of service, but he sees a political lesson in the takedown — a foreshadowing of the kind of repression of speech that could become commonplace if phone companies prevail in their efforts to create a two-tiered internet. In an e-mail interview, he also questioned MySpace’s motives in removing his political commentary from the site.
“I’m not at all upset about MySpace taking the page down — just curious as to why,” he wrote. “I have yet to receive a reply to my inquiry as to why this account was deleted.… I am very curious about the reasons why they took this down — if it is a case of extreme caution with regards to copyright or whether it is the result of some other influence (perhaps even good taste.)”
Art Brodsky, the communications director for Public Knowledge, questioned the timing of the takedown, noting that News Corp. has interests in the telecommunications bill put forth by the Senate Commerce Committee that Stevens heads, and that some in Congress are looking to regulate MySpace over concerns about pedophiles.
“Of all the God-knows-how-many separate postings on MySpace, this one was singled out,” Brodsky said. “You can’t fill out an online form to get something deleted; somebody had to make a specific call on that specific song. Given all that has been happening with Stevens — he was on the Daily Show last night and all the writing we have been doing — I just have a very skeptical view of coincidence.”
MySpace’s PR firm said it would look into the matter.
Public Knowledge, a nonprofit that has been fighting against the broadcast flag and for net neutrality, originally posted the recording of Steven’s odd, and technically inaccurate, explanation of why he was voting against net neutrality.
After a Wired News blog published a transcript of his remarks, they became a sensation over the long July 4 weekend, spawning hundreds of blog posts and comments at sites such as Digg and Slashdot, and inspiring netizens to make T-shirts, PowerPoint presentations and songs lampooning the senator’s assertion that the “internet isn’t a truck … it’s a series of tubes.”
The internet tube meme hit the big time when comedian Jon Stuart aired the audio on The Daily Show Wednesday night, complete with a helpful diagram illustrating how a tube-based internet might work.