AT&T's Jam a Pearl

Ma Bell found its self in publicity hell after an AT&T Webcast of Pearl Jam's Lollapalooza performance censored anti-George Bush comments by lead-singer Eddie Vedder.

During the concert, which was Webcast through AT&T's Blue Room, Vedder offered an homage to Pink Floyd, singing "George Bush leave this world alone. George Bush find yourself another home" to the tune of "Another Brick in the Wall."

While editing Vedder's spontaneous rant would have been justified on the grounds of musical good taste, the cut sent the blogosphere a-reeling with accusations of political censorship by America's largest telecom provider.

And that, of course, led to shrill cries of concern about the need for "net neutrality" regulation.

In a statement, Pearl Jam said:

AT&T's actions strikes at the heart of the public's concerns over the power that corporations have when it comes to determining what the public sees and hears through communications media. Aspects of censorship, consolidation, and preferential treatment of the internet are now being debated under the umbrella of 'NetNeutrality'.

It's a nice tune, but you can't dance to it. Here's what happened, according to ABC News:

AT&T employs the firm Davie-Brown Entertainment (DBE) to edit their webcasts for profanity that is not a part of a song's lyrics, and also for nudity... DBE insisted that the censoring of the Pearl Jam lyrics was an honest mistake, not part of some broader political agenda to protect the president, and that they are undertaking a review of the incident.

In other words, AT&T's contract Webcast-watcher got an itchy trigger finger.

This appears to be more an issue of net stupidity than net neutrality. If AT&T starts blocking P2P downloads of "Daughter," Pearl Jam should be concerned. Or, perhaps they'll be grateful to the broadband giant for protecting their intellectual property.

Hard to tell, "Truth Be Known."

— Michael Harris, Chief Analyst, Cable Digital News

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