Canada Needs To Outlaw Breaking Digital Locks Or Popcorn Vendors Will Starve

from the and-other-tales-of-bizarre-logic dept

You may recall a few years back the ridiculous claim (never retracted) from NBC Universal's General Counsel Rick Cotton that if the unauthorized sharing of movies wasn't stopped, it might mean tragedy for the American corn farmer:
"In the absence of movie piracy, video retailers would sell and rent more titles. Movie theatres would sell more tickets and popcorn. Corn growers would earn greater profits and buy more farm equipment."
Of course, this ignored some rather basic facts. First, corn remains a hugely successful crop for giant agribusiness, who are quite fat and happy thanks to massive government subsidies. Second, despite the rise in movie file sharing over the years, attendance at theaters continues to rise -- suggesting no decline in popcorn sales at theaters. Finally, even if people are file sharing at home, why wouldn't they eat popcorn while they watch those movies at home? Cotton never explains what it is about a downloaded film that makes it less likely to induce popcorn eating than a rented film. In fact, it seems that the corn business is pretty much immune to whatever is happening online.

However, it looks like the whole "corn-file sharing" mythical connection has made its way north in amusing and unhinged ways. Michael Geist points us to an editorial by musician Loreena McKennitt in support of the Canadian copyright reform bill, C-32, where she claims that it's necessary to help the poor popcorn vendors at concerts.

What does that have to do with the copyright bill? That's not at all clear. There's nothing in the copyright bill that will create more concerts that lead to more work for popcorn vendors (and, um, I've been to plenty of concerts -- and really don't recall "popcorn vendors" being at concerts). The link isn't just tenuous here, it's non-existent. McKennitt claims that the music tours are struggling these days, but that has nothing to do with copyright. Even if it's true that touring, as a whole, is struggling (and that's not what the evidence really shows), stricter copyright laws don't have any impact whatsoever. So why is she even bringing it up? She appears to be trying to get sympathy for something totally unconnected to the issue at hand.

In the opinion piece she also attacks "so-called users' rights," which shows you what she thinks of her fans. Geist responds adequately to that part of her opinion piece, which shows a stunning disregard for her own fans and the basic purpose of copyright law.

From there, McKennitt concludes:
Better protection of our intellectual property rights will help to change this. We can once again have a thriving creative environment where artists are paid and the communities where they live and work reap the rewards.
Huh? She never actually explains how better protection of intellectual property rights gets more people to pay or helps anyone. Hell, if we're using McKennitt logic, what about the poor popcorn vendor who no longer can go to concerts because he now spends the money he would have used for concerts on CDs, since he can no longer download for free? Of course, as McKennitt knows (she runs her own record label), the money from music sales mostly goes to the labels, not the artists. So, in that scenario, the artist is making a lot less. Of course, there are lots of other factors, but remember, we're using McKennitt logic. In that world, it seems empirically proven that passing such a law that magically makes popcorn vendors buy CDs actually harms musicians. Uh oh...


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Crabby, Jul 7th, 2010 @ 12:55pm

    What is it with these musicians? Sheryl Crow and her "one square of toilet paper," McKinnet and her popcorn vendors. I think these folks are well and truly out of their minds.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 7th, 2010 @ 1:09pm

    Re:

    They cannot reconcile the truth and reality that the landscape is irrevocably changed (ie. distribution channels that they've made money on for so long are becoming extinct), so they come up with preposterous and flat out wrong-headed arguments.

    It doesn't help that some can't seem to think their way out of a wet paper bag.

     

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  3.  
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    kyle clements (profile), Jul 7th, 2010 @ 1:30pm

    "They cannot reconcile the truth and reality that the landscape is irrevocably changed... so they come up with preposterous and flat out wrong-headed arguments."

    I'm reminded of a quote by Al Gore:
    It’s hard to make someone believe something when their paycheque depends on them not believing it.

    For these people, it's not a matter of accepting the reality that technology erodes markets, it's not about common sense or the infinite supply of digital goods.
    They only care about protecting their own livelihood and their own personal interests; yet they are too short sighted or lazy to realize that they are heading down a dead-end street.
    Rather than head back, hit reset and start again from zero, they are trying to extend that dead-end road just long enough for them to retire.

     

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  4.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Jul 7th, 2010 @ 1:31pm

    .......................

    "Better protection of our intellectual property rights will help to change this. We can once again have a thriving creative environment where artists are paid and the communities where they live and work reap the rewards."

    It didnt work in the US what makes them think its going to work in Canada? Even as part of a larger "legal whole" to discourage people from copying movies and music. Threats, making examples, and jail time havent discouraged people in the past, what makes CRIA think Canada will be any different.

    Also the girl is living in some sort of deluded state.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 7th, 2010 @ 1:58pm

    You want the concert business to thrive? Cut ticket prices.

    My local venue charges 32.50 for a spot on the lawn for some shows, no chair provided. In addition, there is a 6.00 parking fee PER ticket, plus a convenience fee of 9.50 per ticket.

    They very nearly add 50% to the cost of tickets!

    Then on the 10.00 lawn seat days, they add about 150% of the cost with their fees.

    That's why no one is going to concerts.

    Well, that and the crappy music a lot of so called artists are putting out.

     

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  6.  
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    Jimr (profile), Jul 7th, 2010 @ 2:00pm

    popcorn levy

    That is it... they need to tax all popcorn sales in Canada. A 'popcorn levy' applied to each kernel of sale with the money generated kept in trust and divide amongst richest Canadian artist and popcorn sellers after 5 years.

     

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  7.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Jul 7th, 2010 @ 2:00pm

    Re:

    "For these people, it's not a matter of accepting the reality that technology erodes markets, it's not about common sense or the infinite supply of digital goods. They only care about protecting their own livelihood and their own personal interests; yet they are too short sighted or lazy to realize that they are heading down a dead-end street. Rather than head back, hit reset and start again from zero, they are trying to extend that dead-end road just long enough for them to retire."

    Its actually alot more complex than that. You have different groups heading down different paths RIAA, CRIA, etc have multiple levels. Administration, the types that bill hourly, etc. Most of the big Record Labels have three or four levels of management, legal teams, and the artists. Then throw in all the collection agencies.

    With all the players pulling for their own interests. You have this huge dynamic system that is being pulled in many different directions. But the system continues to average out to the safest and worst possible path. The one of self protection, not change or evolution.

    Lemmings come to mind ...

     

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  8.  
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    Money Grubber, Jul 7th, 2010 @ 2:02pm

    Poor popcorn vendors???

    The poor popcorn vendors like LiveNation/TicketBastard? They have their 360 deals with musicians so everyone in the chain makes money. Then they sell their $4 sodas and $8 beers. They actually charge less service fees and crank up the popcorn prices. Check their business model.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 7th, 2010 @ 2:06pm

    I'll share my corn with you. I'll share my bull too!

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 7th, 2010 @ 2:14pm

    Home taping is killing popcorn?

     

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  11.  
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    Trails (profile), Jul 7th, 2010 @ 2:43pm

    Self Evident

    "Finally, even if people are file sharing at home, why wouldn't they eat popcorn while they watch those movies at home?"

    Mike, come on. It's self evident. The downloaders all eat Doritos Extreme Nacho Cheese *obligatory air guitar* and Mountain Dew Code Red!

     

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  12.  
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    Tom Landry (profile), Jul 7th, 2010 @ 3:24pm

    From activists and academics we hear a lot about so-called "user rights." It is my view that this is crafted language.


    Pot, kettle, black.

    This whole piece stinks of the hand of a parasite scumba....errr....industry attorney. This was written FOR her and she gave the rubber stamp. I'd bet a weeks salary.

     

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  13.  
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    Ian Andrew Bell, Jul 7th, 2010 @ 3:30pm

    Irrelevant

    Loreena McKennitt is an irrelevant artist playing irrelevant music, and not completely coincidentally holds irrelevant opinions on file sharing, downloading, fair use, and copyright.

    Her industry is suffering because it has failed (consistently) to adapt to every emergent consumer technology since the 1960s, not because of the advent of this new technology.

    She wants us to feel sorry that she has to go tour because she will miss her kids? This is a sincere argument? Then get a desk job -- music is clearly not for you, Loreena. Lady Gaga doesn't seem to have a problem with people sharing her music.

    I may complain when I have to go on endless business trips, but I sure do realize how important they can be to my future income and success of my business.

    Loreena McKennitt's real problem is not that people are stealing her music and thus not buying her music -- it's that there are not enough people in the world that are interested in her music at all to support her in that profession.

     

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  14.  
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    crade (profile), Jul 7th, 2010 @ 3:30pm

    Re: .......................

    This is the largest, most obvious hole that politicians and anyone else supporting Canadian DMCA avoid addressing like the plague:
    It has already been shown that it doesn't work.

     

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  15.  
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    william (profile), Jul 7th, 2010 @ 5:05pm

    Re:

    They are not out of their minds. They are just ignorant AND arrogant. They probably just read some pamphlet/email from lobby group and think they are "experts".

    Basically, being an artist doesn't make you any more knowledgeable about copyright than any other people. However, because they are involved party, some how they think they understand more than everyone else and has a greater say in the matter.

    Using a really bad analogy, just because you are a blueberry farmer doesn't mean you know more about commercial law than anyone else, or about the trucking network, or managing supermarkets, or economics. It just means you are good at farming blueberries. In order to know more about other stuff, you actually have to learn and study and research. Just reading some propaganda supplied from The Blueberry Council doesn't make you an "expert".

     

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  16.  
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    Simon, Jul 7th, 2010 @ 5:35pm

    She's right

    The only logical solution is to add a tax onto blank media to give to popcorn vendors.

     

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  17.  
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    abc gum, Jul 7th, 2010 @ 5:43pm

    Home popcorn appliances are killing the popcorn making industry.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 7th, 2010 @ 6:57pm

    No concerts for you

    A pity. I like her music, have some CDs and would have gone to a concert when she comes to town.

    I'll find somebody else to subsidize.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 7th, 2010 @ 6:59pm

    As I read the above article, the numerous posts in response to the article, and Mr. Geist's article, I am disappointed by the sanctimony that seems to be in abundant supply.

    Mr. Geist is most disappointing of all. His academic accomplishments notwithstanding, the mocking tone of his criticism of an individual's personal opinion lends credence to those who view academics as persons perched upon a pedestal from which they offer divine revelations to those unfortunate enough to not own a pedestal.

    We are a nation of laws, and these laws include copyright and others relating to intangibles...like it or not.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 7th, 2010 @ 7:33pm

    New Victim

    How long until they trot out the Will Rogers Institute as the victim. If we're not forced to go to the theaters, charities all over the world that ask movie goers for money won't be able to help the children.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 7th, 2010 @ 7:35pm

    Re:

    The irony you just provided is quite entertaining. Thank you.

     

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  22.  
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    NAMELESS ONE, Jul 7th, 2010 @ 8:29pm

    @ 17.07 POPCORN is going to die

    let the greedy bastards die
    17.07 for a bag a popcorn and a watered down crap pop....
    SCREW IT

     

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  23.  
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    NAMELESS ONE, Jul 7th, 2010 @ 8:42pm

    @20

    guess your album wasn't selling either right?
    waves at prince

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 7th, 2010 @ 8:55pm

    Re: Re:

    Fair point, and one that I did not appreciate when preparing my comment. In fact, your comment made me smile.

    Even so, and irony aside, Mr. Geist does come across as a "know it all" taking a cheap shot at the individual.

    Whether you agree or disagree with her opinion, it is useful to bear in mind that it is her's personally, and she does not claim it to be anything else.

     

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  25.  
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    TtfnJohn (profile), Jul 7th, 2010 @ 9:34pm

    Re: .......................

    See, there is this strange beast we have in Canada called the Canada Council which is a tax payer supported body which blesses all manner of "artistic" tripe in the hopes that it will occasionally trip over Art which it does.

    Also, blank CDs were the devil in disguise where Canadians now pay a tax (whoops, levy!) that goes straight to starving Canadian musicians because you can copy CDs. This all before file sharing and bittorrent!

    Thing here is that McKennitt and her ilk consider themselves entitled to protection and subsidy by the populace in general and the goverment is obliging them while obliging the **AAs and the ACTA crowd.

    So you see the problem, as it is in the US and elsewhere is that some artists feel entitled and not that they might actually have to work for something.

    She's just as deluded about that as she is about everything else unfortunately some people and newspapers take her seriously.

     

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  26.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jul 7th, 2010 @ 10:06pm

    Re:

    As I read the above article, the numerous posts in response to the article, and Mr. Geist's article, I am disappointed by the sanctimony that seems to be in abundant supply.

    Ha! In other words, "I have no actual response, because there is none, so I'll just complain about the *way* in which you discuss the subject."

    Seriously. There was a point when you used to contribute points of law and other things of value to this discussion. What happened?

    Mr. Geist is most disappointing of all. His academic accomplishments notwithstanding, the mocking tone of his criticism of an individual's personal opinion lends credence to those who view academics as persons perched upon a pedestal from which they offer divine revelations to those unfortunate enough to not own a pedestal.

    Geist's accurate portrayal of the situation is hardly "mocking."

    We are a nation of laws, and these laws include copyright and others relating to intangibles...like it or not.


    Ah, yes, the standard reply of someone with no argument at all. "The laws are the laws so shut up if you don't like it." Very convincing.

     

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  27.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jul 7th, 2010 @ 10:08pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Even so, and irony aside, Mr. Geist does come across as a "know it all" taking a cheap shot at the individual.

    How so? By accurately pointing out why and where she is wrong?

    Furthermore, to your point of "we are a nation of laws," that is absolutely true. So why are you complaining about Geist's attempt to make sure those laws do, in fact, lead to the results promised?

    I find it incredibly odd how various IP lawyers get so upset about Michael Geist pointing out -- accurately -- when copyright laws don't do what those very same lawyers promised they would do. It's really quite telling about their true motives, which have nothing to do with promoting progress or furthering culture and learning.

     

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  28.  
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    JustSomeGuy, Jul 8th, 2010 @ 12:35am

    Loreena

    That's about the level of intelligence I'd expect from an Enya wanna-be.

     

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  29.  
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    Mr. LemurBoy (profile), Jul 8th, 2010 @ 7:14am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I find it incredibly odd how various IP lawyers get so upset about Michael Geist pointing out -- accurately -- when copyright laws don't do what those very same lawyers promised they would do.

    I don't know if odd is the right word. Sadly, I kind of expect it from quite a few of them.

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2010 @ 7:18am

    at the end of the day, if the theater industry loses attendance, there is a ripple effect in the economy. it would be ignorant for an mba to claim otherwise. nothing happens without ripples.

    you may not like their "poor corn farmer" argument (and by the way, canadians grow corn that isnt in your us based crop subsidy program). you may think it is on the level of "think of the children", but in the end, there are ripples and it goes through the entire economy, like it or not.

    less staff at the theater, less concession products sold, so less ordered, which in turn lowers the business at the various junk food companies, who lower their staff, and so on. remarkable that you dont see that things are in fact somewhat connected at each step.

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2010 @ 9:27am

    Re: Re:

    There are many instances on this site where offering alternate viewpoints are simply shouted down without any attempt to engage in a thoughtful discussion, instances where such viewpoints are little more than trying to talk with a brick wall. Moreover, such alternate viewpoints are met with an almost robotic and completely predictable response. In these instances I see nothing to be gained raising an alternate view.

    This is not that I do not have a contrary argument, but merely responding to the realization that it is fruitless to present it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
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    Modplan (profile), Jul 8th, 2010 @ 9:41am

    Re: Re: Re:

    THIS IS ME SHOUTING YOU DOWN STOP IT STOP TALKING THAT'S ENOUGH LALALALALALALLA.

    This is me asking what actual point you have. Maybe if you brought up something actually interesting and can't be immediately debunked, we won't reply with "robotic" posts.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2010 @ 9:57am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Many, many months ago I had the audacity to point out that Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8 used the term "progress" as that term was commonly used at the time the US Constitution was ratified. In particular, the term was synonymous with "learning", as is self-evident from the title of the first Copyright Act enacted in 1790. In response I was challenged with comments to the effect I was clueless by so stating.

    Subsequently I happened to note a shift in some of your articles that "progress" and "learning" were now being viewed in a manner consistent with my original comment. Why? Because it seemed that one or more of the "with it" academics repeatedly cited here had made this very point.

    As hard as it may be for you to accept, there are numerous persons within the legal profession who are students of history as it serves to place the law in context. Merely by way of just two examples, the original copyright law contained provisions having nothing to do with damages sufferred by one whose work was determined to have been infringed. This is important as we move forward on issues such as statutory damages and the reasons underlying same. Yet another pertains to the vocal rejection by so many that "sweat of the brow" has never been a consideration under copyright law. Of course, this declarative statement is to some degree contradicted by the Copyright Act of 1790 in its pronouncement of the various classes of works as to which copyright law applied. Again, this informs me that the issue associated with "sweat of the brow" is not as simplistic as some would have you believe.

    The point to be made that "IP" lawyers are not necessarily mindless, self-interested promoters of "IP". I will admit that some certainly seem to fit this perception, but I also submit that within legal circles a vibrant discussion of opposing views takes place regularly, and to ignore this is to ignore the reality of what it is that lawyers actually do.

     

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  34.  
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    Almost Anonymous (profile), Jul 8th, 2010 @ 10:05am

    Re:

    Why are you able to ignore the fact that overall gross theater ticket sales grow every year? And no, I won't provide a citation, this is a pretty widely known fact, look it up yourself.

    People STILL go to theaters, myself included, even though theater quality vs. price steadily decreases every year.

    Cool story: I went to the movies this last weekend, matinee price was $7.25/per ticket. I consider this to be high even though I know ticket prices in other parts of the country are much higher. A large soda was $5.50, medium popcorn was $6.50 (almost as much as the ticket itself!) And even though I consider all three of those price points to be way overpriced, my wife and I STILL went. Even though we hate people talking in the theater and playing with their cell phones, we STILL went.

    Frankly, I think all theater-goers have something wrong with them, there is basically NO advantage to going to theaters anymore. Or maybe it's true what they say, that experiencing something with other people can increase the overall experience.

     

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  35.  
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    nasch (profile), Jul 8th, 2010 @ 10:56am

    Re: Irrelevant

    I don't know, she's apparently sold 13 million records. I would say her problem is one of ignorance and stubbornness rather than irrelevance or poor music.

     

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  36.  
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    nasch (profile), Jul 8th, 2010 @ 11:01am

    Re: Re: Re:

    If you don't want to present a rational contrary argument, just don't post anything at all. There's no reason to post "I disagree, but there is no point in explaining why." Either participate in the discussion or go away. Don't, as someone put it recently, stand on the sideline throwing rocks.

     

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  37.  
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    nasch (profile), Jul 8th, 2010 @ 11:04am

    Re:

    Even if you were correct that theater attendance is going down, that money does not vanish from the economy. It is spent elsewhere. For spending to shift from one sector to another from time to time is NORMAL. Passing laws to ensure that spending never moves from one business sector to another is STUPID.

     

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  38.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2010 @ 1:19pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    My original comment was anything but "I disagree". It was nothing more than an observation that points could be made without such a mocking tone directed to an individual expressing her own personal opinion.

    My primary object of criticism, however, was Mr. Geist. He is a professional and in my view should hold himself to such a standard.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2010 @ 1:26pm

    Re: Re:

    Seriously, passing a more stringent set of laws pertaining to copyright prevents the movement of spending "from one business sector to another"?

    In a humorous vein, money does vanish from the economy. Yesterday I had a dollar. Last night the feds printed a bunch of bills. This morning I had only 90 cents. Looks to me like a dime up and left my wallet sometime while I was sleeping.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
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    nasch (profile), Jul 8th, 2010 @ 1:54pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Seriously, passing a more stringent set of laws pertaining to copyright prevents the movement of spending "from one business sector to another"?

    Will it actually have that effect? Debatable. Is that the goal of the entertainment industry in pushing for such laws? That seems obvious. They're certainly not doing it to benefit artists or society.

    In a humorous vein, money does vanish from the economy. Yesterday I had a dollar. Last night the feds printed a bunch of bills. This morning I had only 90 cents. Looks to me like a dime up and left my wallet sometime while I was sleeping.

    Fun huh? Of course if you owe money on anything it's not all bad.

     

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  41.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2010 @ 4:33pm

    I see two shills/mouthpieces/standard minions for the industry, but neither answers the question: when did popcorn have anything to do with music concerts?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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