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Louis C.K.– Live At The Beacon Theater: Easy $5 Download, But Easy To Pirate Too

Submitted by on December 15, 2011 – 5:56 pm3 Comments

Cult favorite comedian Louis C.K. has self-produced and posted his latest special to his website, without the many DRM data controls that most files and DVDs use to prevent pirating. Showing massive trust in his fans, C.K. simply asked them to pay $5 for the video, and then enjoy using it however they like, free from annoying technological restrictions. And so far, it looks like the gamble is paying off.

“No DRM, no regional restrictions, no crap,” says C.K. of the Digital Rights Management technologies that companies use to restrict access to media. “You can download this file, play it as much as you like, burn it to a DVD, whatever.”

But the same ease that allows paying customers to easily download the file and burn it will also easily allow them to upload it and share it, especially on filesharing sites like BitTorrent. So C.K., who is not known for his positive opinion of human behavior but who does often sneak a little hope into his comedy, appealed directly to the people to do the right thing:

To those who might wish to “torrent” this video: look, I don’t really get the whole “torrent” thing. I don’t know enough about it to judge either way. But I’d just like you to consider this: I made this video extremely easy to use against well-informed advice. I was told that it would be easier to torrent the way I made it, but I chose to do it this way anyway, because I want it to be easy for people to watch and enjoy this video in any way they want without “corporate” restrictions.

Please bear in mind that I am not a company or a corporation. I’m just some guy. I paid for the production and posting of this video with my own money. I would like to be able to post more material to the fans in this way, which makes it cheaper for the buyer and more pleasant for me. So, please help me keep this being a good idea. I can’t stop you from torrenting; all I can do is politely ask you to pay your five little dollars, enjoy the video, and let other people find it in the same way.

Louis C.K.

Unfortunately, a day after the special was posted to his site, it was already available on file sharing site The Pirate Bay, albeit with a lengthy apology to Louis C.K. The post sparked a heated debate on that site.

A few days after his special became available, C.K. said in a livechat on the website Reddit that the experiment had “worked well so far,” but that he was still waiting to start heavily promoting it. He added that no matter what the outcome, he was “SO HAPPY” (his caps) to have tried something new, and helped his fans.

C.K. was modest then, but days later posted a note on his website saying his investment had earned him $200,000 in profit in only four days. This is less than C.K. could have gotten for selling the rights to record the performance to an outside company, but it lets him maintain his commitment to his fans.

What do you think? Will the concert keep selling? Can anyone else reproduce C.K.’s business model?

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