This Is Wrong: 'Without The Content Industries, The Internet Would Be Empty'

from the let's-try-that-again dept

One of the annoying things about many in the entertainment industry who want to change the laws and the technology on the internet is that they’ve shown up late to the party. The internet was originally created as a communications medium, rather than a content one. And, for many years, it worked just fine — and whatever “content” that was on the web was a part of the communications effort. It’s only in the last decade or so (even less for some parts) that the old entertainment industry jumped online with its broadcast media mindset. But, rather than learning to understand and respect the fact that it’s a communication medium, where things like sharing content aren’t just possible, but the norm and an absolute “good thing,” they simply insisted that something must be broken, and that it needed to be fixed.

They looked on the internet not for what it was (and is), but what they wanted it to be. To them, it was just a slightly more interactive version of what they had always done — and they assumed that everyone would bow down to their wishes, because, obviously, everyone just wants that mass market content.

No statement encapsulates that more than the following, spoken by one Anthony Healy, director of the Australasian Performing Right Association, discussing the various proposals for new copyright laws in New Zealand, where he somehow states with a straight face:

“Without the content industries, the internet would be empty.”

Oh really? Why not try it, and let’s see. The quote, by the way, was brought to us by Andrew Dubber, who properly calls Healey the “Wrongest Man on the Internet, July 2009.” However, this really is how some of these guys think. They don’t think that the internet really existed before they discovered it, and they think that everyone logs onto YouTube just to catch the latest TV clips. They don’t realize that people use it to communicate and share and collaborate — and that’s a lot more useful than using it to get fed some mass market entertainment junk.

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Comments on “This Is Wrong: 'Without The Content Industries, The Internet Would Be Empty'”

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57 Comments
R. Miles (profile) says:

Time for an edit!

“Without the content industries, the internet would be empty.”
I would like to take this opportunity to state the more true statement:
“Without the content industries, the internet would be better off.”

Making people pay to view. What an asinine thought!

I miss the days of old when the internet *was* better without the “content industry”.

Now look how they screwed it up.

Myself says:

Re: The content co,companies should have the right to censor the internet and charge per byte

Hello,
The content industries MADE the Internet, and just about invented the Internet.
Face it. The only reason for broadband is for pirates and lowlifes to steal copyrighted content, nothing more. And has anyone actually even LOOKED at something not created by the content industries?
For example, NO ONE listens or even CARES about so-called Indo Music, and for good reason. The content companies make music, and it is only through their pleasure that Indi Music iseven allowed to exist.
Why should leeches like those who play Indi music be allowed to be on the Internet? If they were actually any good or worth listening to, then a major label would take them. since no one wants them, they should just shut up and disappear.

Ryan says:

Re: Re:

The quote specifies “content industries”. Now, if you want to define that to mean any person that creates content (and thus any person at all that types a word online), then yes, the internet would be empty without content industries. I’m fairly certain that is not how the rest of us would define “content industries”, however…

Anonymous Poster says:

Re: Re:

Content COMPANY, but not part of the content INDUSTRY (the RIAA, the MPAA, etc.). This is the point the idiot who made that statement is trying to make: take away the stuff the content INDUSTRY provides to the Internet, and the Internet will die. Which is a stupid thing to say.

Trails says:

Re: Re:

Actually, Mr. Healey specifically referred to the Content Industries.

You seem to be stuck in the old mindset as well. You appear to suffer under the dellusion that content flows uni-directionally on the internet. The internet is not about the masses consuming the works of a few, it’s about everyone having access to anything anyone else choses to put up.

If I write an email or post a blog about some wonderful new chili recipe I’ve cooked up, am I part of the content industry? And what about all the technical docs I read online every day as part of my job as a software dev?

I’m certainly producing content, but I’m also pretty sure that neither myself, nor techdirt, nor sourceforge, codehaus, sun, etc… are included in Mr. Healey’s definition of the content industry.

It’s pushing the tired old sham/strawman we’ve heard from the MPAA, RIAA, newspapers etc… that they impart value to the internet, so the internet owes them something. They omit that they benefit from the internet, and they are not the sole/dominant value providers on the internet.

The internet is not “Digital Paper” (this has to be the dumbest/most self serving definition of the internet I’ve ever seen), it’s a network of computers, designed to facilitate computer-to-computer communication in a redundant, reliable way.

DJ (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Partial re-posting of my own posting below:

That is true if you define content as “something”.

The statement that is in contention here, however, is not simply the word content defined as “something”, it is regarding the “content industries” which are things like movies, TV, music, etc.

therefore, if I email a friend (using web-based email), there is “something” in that email, however, while that email is a communication, it has nothing to do with a content INDUSTRY.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Yet, it ends up as digital paper.

Look at Techdirt. What do you have here? It’s the op-ed page with letters from the readers. The only difference is the speed at which the digital paper can print the news. There is nothing new here except speed.

Remove the initial post (the content), and the rest of it disappears as well. Would we be commenting on a blank page (except maybe to call it a waste of digital paper)?

Don’t confuse your private communications or narrowly focused documentation with public content. In the same way your personal letter to Mommy isn’t the same as an op-ed column in a newspaper, your email to Mommy isn’t the same as a techdirt post. Technical docs? All you are doing is moving a manual process (reading manuals, pun intended), and turning it into an online process (reading them online). The docs aren’t really content per se, because they aren’t intended for public reading, and in reality, the same results could be obtained by mailing you a shiny plastic disc.

When you write your public blog, yes, you have made content. You are part of the content industry. Every heard the term “cottage industry”? That’s all you really are. Now, you may not profit from it, but your “FREE!” host is profiting from it in various ways, that much is clear.

“t’s pushing the tired old sham/strawman we’ve heard from the MPAA, RIAA, newspapers etc… that they impart value to the internet, so the internet owes them something. They omit that they benefit from the internet, and they are not the sole/dominant value providers on the internet.”

Actually, if you removed all music and all movie files from the net, all music reviews, all movie reviews, all the celeb pics, the blogs, the rumor sites, the torrent sites and all that which pushes movies and music, and internet traffic would drop like a stone. They don’t own the internet (and I don’t think anyone suggests that), but they do represent a big part of what people look at every day. For reference, how many of the top twits on twitter are celebs or movie / music related? Hmmm.

For me, internet content is like cigarettes. For every smoker that buys loose tabacco and papers and rolls their own, there are tens of thousands of smokers who buy pre-made cancer sticks in pretty boxes and just smoke them. For every person who “creates content” on the internet, there are tens of thousands of consumers only. This site may have a disproportionate number of digital “roll your own” types, but the reality is we are a consumer society and what most people choose to consume online is music, movies, and news (mostly news related to movies and music).

So in the end, the internet is digital paper for the vast majority of the users, and a very few of us are actually writing anything on it of any meaning.

R. Miles (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Actually, if you removed all music and all movie files from the net, all music reviews, all movie reviews, all the celeb pics, the blogs, the rumor sites, the torrent sites and all that which pushes movies and music, and internet traffic would drop like a stone.
I disagree with this. I was there when the internet started turning into a household word, as more and more people found the internet to be the new place to buy items.

Amazon is not a content industry, nor is eBay. Many of these sites were around long before movies and music sites started “destroying” the internet. Once the “content industry” started getting involved, rules were changed in their favor which removed many options people found exciting.

Napster comes to mind very quickly. Content industry? Hell no, but it was the content industry which destroyed this company.

What’s dropping like a stone is the IQs of content industry executives who feel that bringing extortion business models to the internet is the best idea since sliced bread.

The **IAs of the world are the problem. Content has *never* been a problem until such a time SHARING required a payment.

I don’t know about you, but when was the last time YOU charged someone for sharing something you own?

Think about that. The rest of your post has some merit, but then you also discount the fact most people are consumers in the “real” world as well, given not many manufacture goods at all (re, create content).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Oh, so email is a content industry? IRC is a content industry? Instant messengers are content industry? Where’s the content? Does Microsoft provide the content that I receive in my Messenger? Does Google give me the letters that I receive in my Inbox? This Google industry sure sounds a lot like my mom and my brother living in Brasil. Funny!

Marcel de Jong (profile) says:

Re: mass market entertainment

they torrent, because there isn’t a global way of getting the content legally and hassle free.

I wish there was an online store where I could easily pay for and download shows like House, NCIS, Doctor Who and QI, in a format that I can play on my Popcorn Hour media center, relatively cheap and hassle free.

I’m willing to pay for my content, as long as it follows these three things:
1) DRM free (as DRM has NEVER stopped any so-called ‘piracy’ and only annoys paying customers)
2) in a ubiquitous format. (I don’t want to play it in $special_player on my computer, that’s incredibly buggy and only runs in Windows, I want to be able to watch it on my tv, thus mpeg4 or h.264)
3) cheap. (I want to pay for my content, but not through the nose. I’m not willing to pay $25 for a movie, if I can get the same movie on DVD for $15. $5-10 sounds more like it. Similar for tv-shows. $1-2 per episode sounds more reasonable than $5-10 does.)

That is btw, also the way to compete with ‘free’. Deliver it in the same formats as the pirates, less the legal hassles and gray areas, offer it up for cheap, and you have floored most of the downloaders’ arguments.

Robb Topolski (profile) says:

Content Industries? Where were you back in 1990?

The Internet blossomed with no content industries. It was a bunch of people fingering one another (ummm RFC742), a lot of gopher, some telnet resources, a fair amount of IRC. The number of users and bandwidth consumption grew year/year at an astronomical pace and there was nary a content industry in site.

For myself, I started a personal web page and learned how to scan my photos and put them on line (yes, a two-step process). I also signed something from the NSFNET that promised I wouldn’t use it for commercial purposes.

You guys are the Johnnie-Come-Latey’s, welcome, but don’t forget your P’s and Q’s.

ThankQs.

Anonymous Coward says:

More accurately stated:

“Without content, the internet would be empty.”

Of course the same can also be said of many other “content transfer facilitators:

“Without content, movie theaters would be empty.”

“Without content, television broadcast signals would be empty.”

“Without content, radio broadcast signals would be empty.”

“Without content, (fill in the blank) would be empty.”

All of these are tools meant to facilitate the communication of content, and without content they are little more than sometimes quite expensive paper weights. For these tools to come to life and demonstrate their utility someone has to create the content, and, contrary to what many seem inclined to believe, in many instances (if not most at this point in time within the entertainment industries) content does not come cheap.

DJ (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I think I see your point here, that while the internet is a communication tool, without content, there would be nothing to communicate.

That is true if you define content as “something”.

The statement that is in contention here, however, is not simply the word content defined as “something”, it is regarding the “content industries” which are things like movies, TV, music, etc.

therefore, if I email a friend (using web-based email), there is “something” in that email, however, while that email is a communication, it has nothing to do with a content industry.

usmcdvldg says:

Listen,

For years the “content industries” made a living by creating content, and then controlling access. Now the inter tubes are degrading there ability to control access. There first, and although unpopular yet utterly logical reaction is to fight back. The same as movie publishers did when VHS came about, and newspaper and book companys when cheap photocopiers came about, the music industry and Napster, ect ect ect the same as any powerful entity will do when someone or something upsets the homeostasis that’s been feeding them for so long.

Now it would be nice if they would stop, but they won’t, unless it becomes profitable to do so, or are forced to by government.

It would be nice if they where in business to run nice businesses, but there not, they want money.

Ryan says:

Re: Re:

Now it would be nice if they would stop, but they won’t, unless it becomes profitable to do so, or are forced to by government.

Amusing statement, given that government is precisely what makes it profitable, or even possible, in the short term to attempt to restrict content exchange instead of embracing it. If the government merely stayed out, “content industries” would be completely at the whims of consumers, and thus forced to create a viable business model that produced value for the rest of us instead of destroying it.

It would be nice if they where in business to run nice businesses, but there not, they want money.

Yeah, that’s the point of running a business. It would be nice if hookers looked like supermodels and worked for free for the sake of the common good, but the damn bitches just always seem to be about the money. They have it backwards, though; internet users will get along just fine with whatever the hell incumbent content industries decide to do, because somebody else will always come along and fill market voids. The only reason its even an issue is that we let government get involved and force us to get owned or get boned.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: But....

seems you didn’t reply to anyone elses comments that strayed from the issue…

Let me point out how its related then. Couldn’t the case for regulation be made that they were forced to put their material on the internet b/c it was being pirated and given away for free so to protect their content they needed to have a legitimate model for distribution through this channel? But unfortunately this probably led to easier abuse of distributing their works for free. So they try to regulate the distribution channel. Doesn’t seem all that crazy…

DJ (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: But....

Seems you don’t understand the flow of the phenomenon known, in the English language, as “the sentence”.

You see, when I said “That’s a separate, though related, issue.” I combined two ideas into the same sentence, in a grammatically correct fashion.

Idea 1)That’s a separate issue.
+
Idea 2)That’s a related issue.
=
That’s a separate, though related, issue.

Rich Kulawiec says:

Apparently thinks the Internet was invented yesterday

Apparently he’s unaware that long before Sir Tim et.al. brought us the web, we had spent many years populating the ‘net with all kinds of interesting content — in newsgroups, on mailnig lists, on FTP sites, etc. We’re STILL
populating the ‘net with all kinds of interesting content,
most of it from people who are far more interested in
contributing to our globally shared culture than in worrying
whether or not they might make a few bucks from doing so.

Geof (user link) says:

The Internet is not "digital paper"

Conversation is not “content”, and the Internet is not “digital paper”.

Most culture is not “content.” Is a pick-up street hockey game “content”? Is a conversation with a neighbor over the backyard fence “content”? Is a romantic dance “content”?

For most of human history, most human culture has not been “content”. Even today, most culture – human interaction and activity – is not content. It is an activity and a flow, not a thing. The fact that human communication online happens to leave a trace does not make it “content.” It’s “content-ness” is a side-effect. It is an epiphenomenon. It is not the thing – or rather the activity, the practice, the experience – itself.

You are reducing practices to things. This is like reducing the journey to the map. Here I paused to admire the view, there I sat on a bench and ate my lunch, over there I watched a beautiful woman. You can draw a line to show my trajectory, but the essence of it, the point of it, the reason I turned this way and not that: all will be lost. (I must give credit to Michel de Certeau for this example, and the next.) Or take a Chinese character. It appears to be a pattern on paper. But it is not just a shape in space. It is a movement in time. First I place my brush here, then I sweep there, I press, I lift and turn.

The Internet would no more be empty without content than would be a playground or a sports field or a sandy beach. The Internet would be empty without *people*. Digital paper. Hah.

skippy says:

big disconnect

“Actually, if you removed all music and all movie files from the net, all music reviews, all movie reviews, all the celeb pics, the blogs, the rumor sites, the torrent sites and all that which pushes movies and music, and internet traffic would drop like a stone. “

That’s not really true if the “content industry”, meaning those who create mass market content, removed all of their files individuals would still be creating websites, blogs, and all of the other accessory content with out the main content industry ever being involved. It was there before the mass market content industry ever got enough nerve to get involved.

The problem most have with what the mass market content industry is doing, is that now that they have decided to grace the internet with their content they are trying to use the courts to limit their competition and make their content all that the internet is used for.

I recall when there were no mass market content industries on the internet and while there was pirated material there was far more content created by those who used it and distributed it. In my opinion it was far more interesting. I even remember having to dial directly into a BBS. The content industry sure wasn’t on any BBS I went to, and it was better for it. The content that was created on the BBS was far more useful, entertaining, and the correctness/validity was head and shoulders better then what is currently on the internet.

The bottom line is that mass market content industries should not be allowed to crush private content and competitors from creating content and distributing it. After all the internet does not belong to them, rather it is owned by many. Not to mention that these monopoly tactics are not even allowed in the off line world.

Nick says:

Memes?

Lolcats,chocolate rain, sneezing panda, dramatic chipmunk… The populous of the internet creates terabytes of content daily. Much of this the creator never sees a dime for, or they acquire it via other means (no pay wall. If the ‘content industry’ left the web, there would be an up surge of indy content the likes of which have never been seen.

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