Thursday, August 21, 2008

Dalai Lama Downloads Lead To iTunes Block In China

"Songs for Tibet", an album that was offered as a free download to athletes attending the Olympic Games, is being linked to the apparent blocking of Apple's online iTunes Store in China. The athletes were encouraged to listen to the songs on their iPods whilst in Beijing as a act of solidarity with Tibetan people and the non-violent philosophies of their exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

It is believed that around 40 athletes have taken up the offer. Mike Wohl, the executive director of "The Art of Peace Foundation" which produced the album, says that some of the downloads were made while the athletes were in Beijing.

Mr Wohl is the key man behind the controversial pro-Dalai Lama music download, but he insists that it was never his intention to provoke such a response. The campaign to recruit Olympians was not intended to make a big political statement. "We were trying to do the subtlest of subtle things. I didn't want to get anyone in trouble".

The album features popular singers and songwriters such as Sting, Moby, Suzanne Vega and Alanis Morissette. Although most of the songs are re-works or re-mixes of "oldies but goodies", some were written specifically for the project.

The album is described as a "vertical integration of the concept of peace" and a celebration of the "philosphy of non-violence that the Dalai Lama champions".

MrWohl also said "Our whole point is freedom of expression. We have no political agenda whatsoever".

It is important to note that Apple are just a third-party in the controversy, and an "innocent bystander". The album is also available as a paid download on numerous websites including Amazon and Wal-Mart.

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