John Perry Barlow isn't a stranger to having his words played on records. Before launching a career as an internet activist, Barlow was a member of the Grateful Dead. Now you can hear his voice on a new, Jerry Garcia-free vinyl: A version of his Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace is now available as a limited-edition vinyl.
Barlow wrote the Declaration 14 years ago while attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. He had already switched his focus from music to activism, co-founding the Electronic Frontier Foundation in 1990.
The strident Declaration is a response to the Telecommunications Act of 1996, but his words are even more relevant today, since net neutrality remains endangered. It's a passionate defence of internet freedom that has not lost its urgency:
In China, Germany, France, Russia, Singapore, Italy and the United States, you are trying to ward off the virus of liberty by erecting guard posts at the frontiers of Cyberspace. These may keep out the contagion for a small time, but they will not work in a world that will soon be blanketed in bit-bearing media.
Your increasingly obsolete information industries would perpetuate themselves by proposing laws, in America and elsewhere, that claim to own speech itself throughout the world. These laws would declare ideas to be another industrial product, no more noble than pig iron. In our world, whatever the human mind may create can be reproduced and distributed infinitely at no cost. The global conveyance of thought no longer requires your factories to accomplish.
These increasingly hostile and colonial measures place us in the same position as those previous lovers of freedom and self-determination who had to reject the authorities of distant, uninformed powers. We must declare our virtual selves immune to your sovereignty, even as we continue to consent to your rule over our bodies. We will spread ourselves across the Planet so that no one can arrest our thoughts.
You can download Barlow's recordings of the zdeclaration for free if you don't want to shell out $US50 for the vinyl, although the 180g record is a beautiful artefact. In addition it includes a version of the Declaration set to music by Dražen Bošnjak, which might be a nice gift for the net neutrality activist in your life. [EFF]