An Open Letter to PEN Regarding Matt Bailey’s Anti-Artist, Anti-Copyright Blog

An open letter on PEN’s publication of Matt Bailey’s article containing anti-copyright positions.

Dear PEN–
As musical artists who have been forced to defend our livelihoods from Silicon Valley’s relentless attacks on our rights; and as supporters of PEN’s positive action in so many other areas; we were shocked that PEN chose to publish Matt Bailey’s “Three Big Discussions We Need to Have ASAP About AI and Social Media Moderation.”7/8/2020

Mr. Bailey’s discussion of free speech issues in policing the ideological content of online posts is welcome. His conflation of this issue with copyright infringement is irrational and harmful: the overwhelming majority of copyright-infringing files are 100% identical copies of commercially available music, film, or writing.
This is not the exercise of “free speech”, and the technology to regulate such infringement is 100% blind to the ideological content of the files.

The gutting of the market that has resulted from this mass infringement has chilled more free speech— simply by defunding and devaluing it— than any censor, human or AI, possibly could. [See this article by Neil Turkewitz].
The Tech corporate narrative represented in Mr. Bailey’s article– positing copyright as the enemy of free speech– is contrary to our own experience, the positions of virtually all major representative groups of musical artists*, filmmakers**, PEN’s other positions, and the interests of all writers.

We urge you to remove or edit Mr. Bailey’s anti-artist, anti-writer, anti-copyright article.

Sincerely, M Ribot

Ben Bierman
Ken Hatfield

Olympia Kazi
David Lowery
John McCrea

*see the Music Community Response to the U.S. Copyright Offices Inquiry on Section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
**see Creative Future.