China has blocked access to the entire iTunes store, apparently, because of one controversial album: Songs for Tibet.This is further evidence (as if any were needed), that any suggestion of ‘free speech’ in China is simply an illusion.
The ‘art of peace‘? How about the art of censorship?
China’s authorities have blocked access to all eight million or so songs in the iTunes music store, apparently because one album — Songs for Tibet — doesn’t sit well with them.
Songs on the album include criticism of the same so-called “great firewall of China” that now prevents it from being purchased from iTunes in China.
“We issued a release saying that over 40 (Olympic) athletes downloaded the album in an act of solidarity, and that’s what triggered it,” Michael Wohl, executive director of the Art of Peace Foundation, which released the compilation, told the Associated Press. “Then everything got blocked.”
But there was reason to block the site because those athletes were gettin’ all revolutionary and subversive!
Although Apple does not operate a localized version of the iTunes music store in China, users with accounts at iTunes stores based in other countries, including the athletes Wohl mentions above, were able to purchase the album in China before the block was put into place. According to the Guardian, the Chinese government employs an estimated 30,000 people to block access to online material it finds objectionable.
Several well-known artists participated in the album (iTunes link), including Alanis Morissette, Garbage, Imogen Heap, Moby, Sting, Suzanne Vega, Underworld and others. It also includes a 15-minute talk by exiled Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama. Funds raised through the album’s sale go to supporting “peace initiatives and Tibetan cultural preservation projects important to the Dalai Lama,” according to the album’s iTunes description.
And, incidentally, the album was the top selling rock album in the world at the beginning of August. Not bad for the little record that shut down iTunes in China…
Songs for Tibet was the top-selling iTunes rock album in the world during the first week of August.