NBC Exec: Think Of The Poor Corn Farmers Hurt By Movie Piracy

from the wait,-are-these-guys-serious? dept

NBC/Universal’s general counsel Rick Cotton must just be trying to push his anti-piracy comments to absurd levels to see just how much he can get away with. We’d already written about his completely unsupportable statements on how law enforcement needs to spend less on traditional crime and focus more on piracy and counterfeiting. We also covered the highly problematic suggestion he made to the FCC that it force ISPs to monitor their traffic for any unauthorized material (complete with more bogus stats). However, as more people dig through that FCC filing there are some amazing quotes that really suggest that Cotton and NBC/Universal have no connection to reality with these pleas. Public Knowledge picks up on NBC’s showy concern for the American 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.”

There are all sorts of problems with this statement. As Public Knowledge points out, first off, movie theaters are doing great this year, suggesting the big “threat” of piracy had a lot less to do with its troubles than the fact that it just didn’t have that many compelling movies the past few years. Also, corn farmers are doing quite well (and people still eat popcorn at home while watching pirated movies). Of course, that doesn’t really matter. What’s key here is that if Cotton and NBC actually believe this logic, then they don’t deserve to be in business. By the very same reasoning, I could say “If all movies were pirated, then everyone would have that additional money they didn’t spend on movies to spend on things like fancy dinners. Restaurants would be more crowded. Farmers would make more money by being able to sell more profitable food at higher prices.” See how easy it is? It’s also completely bogus, but it’s just as accurate as Cotton’s statement on the corn farmers. To suggest that the ripple effects don’t ripple in other directions isn’t just misleading, it’s dangerously wrong. Of course, knowing how the entertainment industry works, next thing you know, they’ll be demanding a cut of the profits corn farmers make, since, after all they’re “profiting off the backs of the movie industry” without paying the industry for the benefit.

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Comments on “NBC Exec: Think Of The Poor Corn Farmers Hurt By Movie Piracy”

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**AA bogus says:

Careful Mike, they might actually start going down this path (“they’ll be demanding a cut of the profits corn farmers make, since, after all they’re “profiting off the backs of the movie industry” without paying the industry for the benefit.”).

This is in line with what they do in EU already with all the bogus taxes on media, with the only difference being that the end user pays this tax, not the media manufacturer…

**AA bogus says:

Careful Mike, they might actually start going down this path (“they’ll be demanding a cut of the profits corn farmers make, since, after all they’re “profiting off the backs of the movie industry” without paying the industry for the benefit.”).

This is in line with what they do in EU already with all the bogus taxes on media, with the only difference being that the end user pays this tax, not the media manufacturer…

kip says:

Corn farmers beign hurt by movies, umm no.

Wow. What a bad choice of words to say the least as farmers can’t kick out enough corn for increased demand based upon its abilities to be used as an alternative fuel source.

There is a trickle down effect that the reality of the movie industry will turn to that of the music business. There are alot less movies released versus records so its just taken a bit longer.

Movie firms have to embrace a new model of simultaneous releases around the world of movies and that of consistent, longer term for revenue goals. Blockbusters will be fewer and fewer, epesically since fewer and few people want to deal with $7 popcorns and $8 sodas.

Theatres need to use the European model of buying tickets for a specific seat and to have alcohol in theatres. Why congregate in a place to watch it ona theatre is I have a 40″ tv that I can watch at home.

Bob (user link) says:

You aren't seriously considering this idiot's view

This idiot is the same jerk that said Police shouldn’t work on RAPE cases because they didn’t generate revenue like a COPYRIGHT or PIRACY case would.

I’m sorry, there are some things that just don’t go well with me, and saying a RAPE victim doesn’t deserve justice because there’s NO MONEY IN IT, crosses the line of decency!

This guy should seriously seek out some competent mental health facilities!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“Most people that watch pirated movies are too lazy and cheap to go to the theaters anyways. As long as there are high school hormones raging there will always by theater profits. I don’t think you’ll impress a girl by watching a low-quality movie at home with your parents in the next room”

I’m sorry, how old are you? Because if taking a chick to the cinema is the best you can come up with you’re a fucking loser.

Wow. Loser!

Don says:

Re: Re:

“Most people that watch pirated movies are too lazy and cheap to go to the theaters anyways”

Not true at all. I’ll give you just one example. I stopped by a friends house the day before Star Wars Episode 3 came out and they were having a viewing party with a leaked copy of film (I couldn’t stay but I saw the first like ten minutes of it, and it was the completed film, it just had a timestamp running at the bottom). There were about a dozen people at this party and I know every single one of them still went to see the movie at least once, in some cases 2 or 3 times, at the theater. Most of them had expressed severe reservations (given the weakness of Episodes 1 and 2) about seeing this film before that. Yes, some people are too cheap to actually pay for anything. A lot of people, however, just was some assurance that they are getting a real value for the $10-20 they are plopping down.

Sanguine Dream says:

So does that mean...

the companies that provide popcorn, soda, chip, candy and other snacks to the movie theaters can go after the movie industry for all the money that they make from selling their products since the movie theaters are benefiting from their snacks without paying the respective industries for said benefit?

Yes I know that is twisted logic but we all know that saying about fighting fire…

seth brundle says:

well hes right

When you pirate, you are absolutely decaying the employment of everyone involved in the entertainment chain, which is his point.

These are real people, with real jobs, doing great work, and when movies are pirated people think they are ‘sticking it to the man’ – as if the only people affected were moguls and A-list actors at the top of the food chain – which is just the opposite – they are barely affected at a personal level. Its just self-legitimization.

tweak (profile) says:

Re: well hes right

Saying he’s right shows that you are just as (if not even more) out of touch with reality.
The very premise of his statement is that same incorrect logic that the RIAA has been using for years- that each instance of piracy equates to a lost sale. Of course, this logic is absolutely false, and merely serves to pad the numbers in favor of the industry.
People are seeing fewer movies in the theaters in recent years because movies in recent years have sucked. Plain and simple.
If a truly awesome movie comes out, people will plop down their hard-earned dollars to see it. However, with the crap-fest that most studios have been producing lately, fewer people have been interested. I don’t think it’s a matter of “should I see this movie in the theatre, or watch a crap pirated version on my tv”, so much as it’s “should I watch this crap movie I found on the internet, or should I watch reruns of The Price is Right”.

Bob says:

Re: well hes right

@seth brundle: “When you pirate, you are absolutely decaying the employment of everyone involved in the entertainment chain, which is his point.”

When you legitimately purchase content to play it on your legitimately purchased device, such as when you buy an episode of Heroes to watch on your iPod, you’re certainly not “pirating” anything. However, Zucker still wants a cut of the device sale—which would NOT be going to the individuals who physically created that content (at least until/unless contracts are re-negotiated—writers may go on strike in November for that very reason).

How, exactly, is this justified?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: well hes right

true, except for one flaw, they don’t pirate great movies, they pirate movies that are ok, but not worth buying. its somewhat akin to offering everyone a free cookie at the mall, many people will take it and eat it. if the cookie tastes like cardboard and you charge 20 bucks a cookie though no one will even think about it.

Don says:

“oh, great…. You’ve just given them their next target”

heh, the suggestion about the corn farmers is right up there with my idea that if the oil companies weren’t gouging me for an extra buck a gallon than they were six months ago. That’s like $15-20 every two weeks for me, which incidentally is about the cost of a CD or DVD. By the sort of logic exhibited by the exec above, the oil companies are costing them 26 sales from me alone this year. Therefore by their logic they should sue Exxon-Mobil for costing them valuable sales.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

#32: I believe he is referring to the export quotas. It becomes even more complex when the huge subsidies for corn are factored it.

It’s not “illegal” in the traditional sense–noones going to go to jail–but there are tariffs involved which pretty much ensures it doesn’t happen.

r72sasko says:

If it didn't...

cost $32 just for tickets to take my family of 4 (because the lead actors are making $10-20 million), maybe I could afford to buy more popcorn at $8 for a 55 gallon drum. It is sensationalist statements like the ones by Mr. Cotton that draw attention to the situation but at the same time, it makes people tune him out because they think he has completely lost his mind.

Beefcake says:

Send Cotton Popcorn

It’s time to rise up! I mean, if CBS will spend millions of dollars to bring back a show that didn’t make any money just because people send them peanuts, maybe NBC will fire an idiot executive with diarrhea of the mouth and brain if we send them popcorn. Then the exec could turn to the agriculture lobby as his next gig because he’s so in tune with them, and we would have inadvertently sent Cotton to the corn farmers.

This is agriculturally confusing.

Max Swanson says:

Corn Farmers and Piracy

This posting is right on the money. I naively thought that the passing of Jack Valenti might have a ripple effect in the direction of reality-based thinking, but ’tis not to be.

Let’s give the entertainment moguls a slice of the profit on cars, since folks have been known to listen to music in them.

BTW, I’ma local studio musician with a couple copyrights listed with BMI, so I feel qualified to speak to this point; and it doesn’t make the entertainment mouthpieces any less wacko when they go on as they do!

ScaryLarry says:

How about this?

How bout this scenario?

People pirate movies…computer and graphics card sales go up, dvd players and blank media sales increase, Retailers are happy.
But what about the teenagers who work at the movie-plex. They lose their job because theatres shut down due to piracy…they adopt a drug habit that they now cannot afford due to depression over their job loss. This of course will make psychiatrists and drug dealers see a boom in their business and let’s say this will mean cop’s will be more in demand with the unemployed hooligans running the streets, which will in turn mean that us, joe citizen will have to pay more taxes to cover their overtime pay.
With less money in our pockets, this of course will affect corn farmers. I for one know when money is tight, there is no room in the budget for “Creamed Corn” or Orville Redenbacher”.
This will of course cause the corn farmer suicide rate to go up, as it does every 15-20 years. Which will cause a boom in business for grave diggers and morticians and such.
Now back to the unemployed theater ushers. With no other job opportunity that will live up to carrying a flashlight and all that responsibility of cleaning spilled soda off the floor, the unemployment rate will go up as will the welfare rate.
Sure a few of these unemployed punks will find sanctuary at the booming retailers, but c’mon retail work sucks!

If you think all this is worth it, then go ahead and keep on pirating movies, but please think of the lowly usher’s face the next time you do…and what ripples you may be causing.

BigEd says:

Now I've heard it all....

Not really, as I know they still have a lot more bullshit to pass on. Next will be that since were not going to the theater and eating popcorn we are taking dumps as much, therefor the toilet paper industry in also losing out on piracy.

Also you “First” people are a-holes. Just plain and simple totally ignorant, brain dead, 2 year olds. You’ve given a new meaning to the first post and it says “I’m First at being a loser”.

rEdEyEz says:

popped corn(ball) economics

Taken a little further, if theaters were required to pay back revenues “by seat count” instead of “by ticket count,” then just think of the substantial increase in additional profits that could be realized by the MPAA for the artistes and fatcat studio executives!

Subsequently, the theaters could then charge $50 for each tub of greased corn (5¢ worth) , and $15 per soda (5¢ worth) to maintain THEIR profit margin, ….and it’s a win-win-win for everyone!

(well, of course, except for the farmer – who still only gets $4 per bushel)

Have these people ever considered that their “entertaining” product is diminishing in [TICKET volume:profit] because the “quality/content/originality” of their product sucks, and because it is NON-ESSENTIAL?

Or does the cornball moralist in you suggest that farmers are suffering because “the same criminal elements that pirate movies are just as likely to steal corn from the fields of the plowman?”

Semicharm says:


If it wasn’t for Heroes, I would just tell NBC to kiss my ass. Besides, broadcast entertainment is just sooo last century.

A big reason that some turn to internet piracy is that it’s basically instant, on-demand entertainment. Hell, why do you think that anymore watches the crap on YouTube? If they would compete with that, then piracy would go down.

FreeSpeech says:

Piracy Prevents Starvation

Following the lines of the increased movie ticket sales leading to increased popcorn sales:
Corn prices from increased ethanol demand are already causing tortillas in Mexico to become unaffordable. If the movie industry cracks down on piracy and further increases corn demand, then prices will rise even higher, fueling starvation and hence increased illegal immigration from Latin America.

So, I think this NBC lawyer probably needs to be on trial for murdering the immigrants who die in the desert as they attempt to cross into the United States. I mean, a logical argument like that is something a lawyer should be able to understand.

Anonymous Coward says:

I don’t pirate movies because I don’t because want to sit in front of a computer screen to watch a movie recording with timer at the bottom, babies crying, and cell phones going off. Yes I’ll get the same treatment if I actually go to the theater but at least the picture/sound quality is better than my home setup.

So if I pirate movies at home and dont go to the theater I’m hurting not only the movie industry but also the corn industry, or so I’m told. Then who am I hurting if I go to the theater and I sneak in my own candy? Does this mean Hershey, Resse, and all the candy companies will unite to form the Candy and Chocolate Coalition?

Or maybe the Coalition Opposed to Counterfeit candy for Kids.

John (profile) says:

What about M&M's farmers

If this guy is so concerned about the corn farmers who may lose business if people stop going to the movies, what about the poor M&M’s farmers? Entire crops of Twizzlers could be lost just because people won’t go to the movies and buy a $6.00 box of candy! The horror!

I am glad that these executives are looking out for the corn farmer instead of looking for ways to cut costs… like, say, only giving Tom Cruise $10 million per movie instead of $20 million.

James says:


I wouldn’t mind seeing a graph correlating the data between attendance (tickets sold), and refreshment revenue vs. the price of each over time.

The movie industry and theatre experience have many issues that have been listed here numerous times. When it costs (nearly) $10 for a movie ticket and you have to take out a 2nd mortgage for refreshments, and deal with idiots who talk and answer their cell phones, people begin to consider other entertainment options.

Intellegent Coward says:

What a maroon!

Corn is such a heavily subsidised crop that business grow it for the subsidies and then it is so cheap that they use loose corn starch for making molds.

Hell people could stop eating corn and the farmers would still have a market. Not that family farmers make enough money for it to be worth it half the time.

now this yahoo thinks that the non existant slump in theatre attendance is going to make farmers go broke.

ya… that will happen.

Joe says:

Theater is a waste of time

I prefer to watch movies in my home theater chair with my 7.1 surround sound and 47″ widescreen tv. I can pause the movie for a restroom break or to answer the phone at any time. I am in the privacy of my own home without everyones screaming kids or cell phones ringing to interrupt my movie experience. I support the corn farmers by air popping my popcorn in the microwave, and the movie industry by purchasing DVDs.
The knuckleheads think we all steal from them. I wish they would quit doing their cocaine and wake up to reality.

Anonymous Coward says:

I don’t get it. The content-mafia is so unbelievably ridiculous, I just can’t believe what I’m reading.

Just go and die. I won’t EVER buy any content anymore. And I sure won’t download your crap either. Rot in hell.

Poor artists 🙁 but I’ll support my fav artists by going to their concerts anyway. So what. Nobody needs the industry anyway.

Michael Nielsen says:

Re: Down with Pirates!

I’ve already got some DVD’s that I bought – where they have an anti pirate add in the end, that claims excactly that – piracy supports terror, and organised crime etc.

You know I really don’t want that crap on my legally bought movies.

I’m a keen cinema goer, with my girlfriend, however in the last 4 years, when we’ve wanted to go to the cinema, we’ve looked at what was running, and about 90% of the time, we decided that the crap that was running, wasn’t even worth watching when it goes on to “free” tv, and we were definitely not going to pay to see it.

We used to go to the cinema about 1-2 times a months, that dropped to about 1-2 times per year, due to crap movies.

Tully says:

Popcorn != Corn

The one thing I found most absurd is he’s trying to say Farmers would sell more corn if the movie theatre could sell more popcorn.

Popcorn and Corn are not the same thing. They’re two different plants and only a very very small majority of farmers actually grow popcorn. Most of which are subcontracted by the major popcorn companies. Once you know this, it makes this comment even MORE absurd.

Anonymous Coward says:

“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.”

So piracy is hurting those who make equipment, which hurts the tractor (or whatever) industry, which hurts the steel industry, it hurts the industry that makes engines too, which somehow affects Airplanes, which hurts national defense, which promotes terrorism, which hurts Nasa and our space agencies, which hurts the government, which hurts the education, which hurts medicine, which promotes bio terrorism.

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