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.

Filed Under: anthony healy, content, copyright, internet, new zealand


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  1. identicon
    Geof, 20 Jul 2009 @ 11:07pm

    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.

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