updated 11:45 pm EST, Tue December 13, 2011
Louis CK shows copy protection not needed
Comedian Louis CK in an update revealed that an experiment in directly selling his Live at the Beacon Theater show online was a runaway success. Although it cost $170,000 to self-direct and produce the video, the DRM-free, $5 video had made $250,000 in just its first 12 hours. By Tuesday, Louis had more than doubled that amount and managed $200,000 in pure profit.
He noted that a traditional studio's methods would have not only cut back the profit but made for a worse experience overall through an excessive fear of piracy.
"They would have charged you about $20 for the video," Louis said. "They would have given you an encrypted and regionally restricted video of limited value, and they would have owned your private information for their own use. They would have withheld international availability indefinitely. This way, you only paid $5, you can use the video any way you want, and you can watch it in Dublin, whatever the city is in Belgium, or Dubai. I got paid nice, and I still own the video (as do you). You never have to join anything, and you never have to hear from us again."
His comments were a direct jab at traditional movie and music labels, usually those headed up by the MPAA and RIAA. Many both insist on copy protection and regional locks under the notion that customers won't pay if given the option to copy freely. Piracy in key countries, like China and Russia, has often been used as a justification for region encoding.
The experience was rewarding enough for Louis that he considered it a successful experiment. Some would still try to torrent the video, but it showed that fans would be willing to pay for content if the quality was there and the producers trusted fans instead of assuming the worst.
"I learned that money can be a lot of things," Louis said. "It can be something that is hoarded, fought over, protected, stolen and withheld. Or it can be like an energy, fueled by the desire, will, creative interest, need to laugh, of large groups of people."