Two songwriters in Vietnam have been imprisoned for using their music to encourage greater freedom of expression and nonviolent protests against the Vietnamese government, 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.
Throughout history, artists have been willing to risk their own freedom in fighting for social and political causes. They have had the courage to write about and document injustice and their music is used to inspire movements for change.
The Internet tech giants who benefit financially from all activity online, be it legal, illegal or fraudulent, have worn the free speech mantle to fight any legislation which protects creators from online theft. Freedom of expression is not the same as freedom to steal. Theft does not protect free speech.
So when it comes to judging who are the real champions of free speech – whether online or in the public square – it is a lot easier to believe in songwriters who are arrested and jailed for their speech, and not tech companies, who are interested in profits and not speech.
We at ASCAP encourage music creators to show your support by exercising your right to free speech and sharing the plight of Vo Minh Tri and Tran Vu Anh Binh with your friends, your community and your elected officials.
Tweet this: I support #freespeech4artistsonline. Free songwriters Viet Khang and Tran Vu Anh Binh from prison
Follow their lead and use your creative talents to create your own song, short story, photo, poem or video message to share with the world. Use the hashtag #freespeech4artistsonline to get your message out.
This call to action is courtesy of the Copyright Alliance's blog, which can be viewed along with additional links right here.