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...