Imminent Death of Internet Predicted!
July 19, 2000 4:29 PM   Subscribe

Imminent Death of Internet Predicted! Napster killed the Internet star, says record exec Edgar Bronfman Jr. "Let me tell you what else is in trouble here: the Internet. In the end, the Internet itself will not be able to survive if it becomes a haven for illegal activity. Copyrights must be protected online."
posted by rcade (14 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
"In the end, the Internet itself will not be able to survive if it becomes a haven for illegal activity." The profitability and longevity of those illegal activities cannot in any way be judged by his grandfather's profits running Canadian Club over the border during Prohibition or the fact that Seagram is now a giant media conglomorate.
posted by snarkout at 5:08 PM on July 19, 2000

Oh my, the Dark Ages are already here! Repent napster sinners!
I say, "let it come down". I'll bet artists end up seeing the value of their work go up. And the quality too. . .
posted by aflakete at 5:18 PM on July 19, 2000

It may not drum up Brownie points from the old Tennessee mints, but I'm thinking that this confessio ad absurdum could (with a little help from Procter & Gamble) be the strong start these toddling latecomers need.
posted by EngineBeak at 5:31 PM on July 19, 2000

Wow. How astoundingly clueless this guy is.

The Internet was something well before anyone was making money off it, and even they weren't making much. He needs a serious course in Internet History (when do the schools pick that up in their regular curriculm, anyway? "Next week's quiz: The Morris Worm!").

Online sales make up little, if any, of the profitablilty of the Internet right now. Those who build the network are those who are making money. They're making money off the people who enjoy talking with and learning about people from around the world and from across the street.

Now that those people have had a taste of it, they aren't going back.

posted by cCranium at 6:16 PM on July 19, 2000

But how do we fight back? I was reading some Aesop's Fables the other day, cuz I'm looking for 'public domain' material for this idea I have.

Anyway, one of Aesop's Fables is about this wolf who meets a stray lamb. And he promises not to eat the lamb without just cause. Then the wolf starts accusing the lamb of outrageous things, and with every accusation the lamb offers proof that it couldn't have possibly ever given the wolf just cause to eat him. So in the end the wolf tires of the debate he's losing, and eats the lamb anyway.

A tyrant will refuse to go away hungry, and will always find an excuse for his tyrany.

Corporate money is the wolf that is now trying to find precedence for swallowing the Internet. It believes it's wrong to allow the Net to grow unshackled and unhindered. It wants restrictions. It wants control. It wants to reshape the Internet into its own image. There was a time when I thought that was impossible. However, if the wolf persists in accusing the lamb, loud enough for the rest of the animals to hear, eventually it will get what it wants. And if it can't do it from a socially acceptable standpoint, the wolf will use force. He will not surrender hungry.

In the end, the majority of people on the 'Net will go along with corporate greed. It's for the best they'll learn to believe. They will be wrong, but I don't see how we can fight it.

The only saving grace is that Atlas will inevitably shrug. There will be those who just move on like nomads to the next thing: something we may not be able to comprehend now just as the Internet was unthinkable fifty years ago. True creativity and freedom will thrive somewhere. It shames me to admit that Ayn Rand was right about people.

And no. Copyright laws are not for everybody. They are only for the people who can afford to defend them. Meatball Fulton once came up with this silly idea about a Boogerman. Years later a couple people who admitted to having gotten the idea at least partly from him, turned it into a video game and gave him nothing but a little reference in the fine print. A small thank you. Perhaps that's the equivalent of being delegated to a link page as it pains me to admit. Fulton went to his lawyer and asked if he had any recourse. They found they wouldn't be suing the people who made the game, but the corporate entity which purchased the rights from them, and Fulton didn't have the capital to scare such a behemoth entity.

I believe the idea behind copyright is sound. In fact, it's constitutional. People should be compensated for their efforts when it's applicable. If profit is made, all involved should benefit. However, copyright restricts the flow of expanding upon old ideas to create new, and in the end only those who can afford successful lawyers benefit.

The Internet isn't going to die from copyright infringement. Restrictions placed on the Internet however, will choke the life out of it. It'll become a ghost of what it could have been.
posted by ZachsMind at 8:08 PM on July 19, 2000

I like this one:
"And corporations won't be the only ones hurt. Artists will have no incentive to create."

Ha, ha. Because, after all, Monet was really doing it for the benjamins. So was, ha ha, H.P. Lovecraft. Tee hee.

I like how we the little people can always trust Time Warner to look out for our best interests. And to view things from an unbiased viewpoint. Because their stance isn't at all influenced by the possible threat that an open system might pose to their monopoly. Oh, no. AOL/Time Warner really just wants what's best for US.

Ha, ha.
posted by fable at 8:20 PM on July 19, 2000

Artists, generally, aren't in it for the money: if they were, and were smart, they wouldn't become artists.

Record company executives, on the other hand, are less able to resort to an aesthetic defence of their roles.
posted by holgate at 8:57 PM on July 19, 2000

cCranium - online sales make up a large percentage of the billion-dollar web industry. A good example of this is online porn subsciption sales, which make up over 8% of the market.

posted by Neale at 12:05 AM on July 20, 2000

And thanks to his smart move in registering the word "slut" as a trademark in 17 countries, Neale gets a cut on most of those sales...
posted by wendell at 12:12 AM on July 20, 2000

Well, folks, might as well throw those computers in the trash. The internet is doomed. This incredibly well-informed record weasel has sounded its death knell.
Hmmm....I wonder what's more likely to survive...a.) A decentralized network of tens of millions of computers, each independenly controlled and operated. or b.) An antiquated and wasteful music distribution system, in which the majority of the profits are absorbed not by the artists who create the music, but by corporate entities, who justify their huge profit margin with claims that they need this disproportionate share of the money to support the aforementioned antiquated system of distribution.
posted by Optamystic at 12:30 AM on July 20, 2000

Mr. Bronfman is absolutely right: the Net won't last long if it becomes a haven for "illegal" activity.

So... What does this say about the half-life of unenforceable laws, that teach nothing but contempt for the law? What does this say about the likelihood of Congresscritters getting elected who'll change the laws to more closely resemble what The People actually believe?

I don't think he realizes he's two Congressional votes and a signature away from being "correct", but irrelevant... :) Amazing how what's "illegal" one day can suddenly become "legal"...

posted by aurelian at 2:22 AM on July 20, 2000

ZachsMind: I actually just finished reading Atlas Shrugged. It's amazing how many references to it I didn't grasp before, and how often the book itself has come up on MeFi in recent months.

Back on topic now, you said:

There will be those who just move on like nomads to the next thing: something we may not be able to comprehend now just as the Internet was unthinkable fifty years ago.

Which is how I know the Internet will survive. The people who do that are going to be the people who helped (and are currently helping) create and define the Internet. (the Gore jokes are old, don't bother. :-)

An non-corporate network, or version of the network, will exist for all time now. We like it too much to let go of it. Having said that, I still think the Internet can be shared quite well between the corporate and the individual. There's no reason, except corporate control desires, that it won't be.

In ten years, there'll have been a massive shift in the major players at a lot of companies. Those who have been in control for decades are getting old, the new vanguard's on its way in, and most of them are paying attention to what's going on; it gives them an edge in the corporate world to know.

Neale: I forgot about the porn, but it's also the porn that will help fight control of the Internet. Porn proved that the Internet was indeed a viable realm for business.

And yes, there is currently a billion dollar web business, but how many dot-coms are actually making a profit? They can be making a ton in sales, have international branding, but still be operating in the red. (see:

The internet was profitable for many - ISPs, hardware vendors, software developers for instance - well before Online Retail was really a concern, and will continue to be whether retail succeeds or fails.
posted by cCranium at 6:14 AM on July 20, 2000

MPEG at 11.

And just who *is* John Galt, anyway?
posted by baylink at 7:41 AM on July 20, 2000

To all you making Ayn Rand references, just remember: No matter what, Ayn Rand would be on Time-Warner's side. She'd write an excrutiating three-hundred-page philosophical screed explaining why Time-Warner executives are right. After all, they take worthless music and art and turn it into valuable, saleable products. It's their tireless ingenuity that creates wealth and prosperity for the entire world, and without them, the rest of us would starve.
posted by wiremommy at 11:56 AM on July 20, 2000

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