I meant to write about this a few days ago.
US comedian Louis CK (I hadn’t heard of him, but he seems pretty popular) decided to produce a good version of his latest live show and make it available online for $5.
Nek Minnit (well 12 days later) he made $1 million.
Comedian Louis CK has proved a point: People are willing to pay a reasonable amount of money for DRM-free content from a performer they love, even though it would be trivial for them to pirate the same content for free.
Twelve days ago, Louis CK decided to skip the distribution, DRM, ads and everything else that goes into marketing and sale of a video, and simply offer the video of his latest performance on his website for $US5.
It took four days for Louis to earn $US200,000, and another 8 days to earn a whopping $US1 million.
It blows out the water the view that content has to be locked up with laws to enforce it because too many people will only steal it. In fact people will pay money to get access to new content. If the price is right and the product is what they want.
Louis CK posted a blog saying he would keep just $220,000 from his $1m.
So I’m breaking the million into four pieces.
the first 250k is going to pay back what the special cost to produce and the website to build.
The second 250k is going back to my staff and the people who work for me on the special and on my show. I’m giving them a big fat bonus.
The third 280k is going to a few different charities. They are listed below in case you’d like to donate to them also. Some of these i learned about through friends, some were recomended through twitter.
That leaves me with 220k for myself. Some of that will pay my rent and will care for my children. The rest I will do terrible, horrible things with and none of that is any of your business. In any case, to me, 220k is enough out of a million.
I had a quick look at Louis CK’s stuff. Here is is a clip on Youtube (not the $5 version). Pretty out there, but worth paying for. I think the business model is pretty obvious. It’s just a pity that he had to spend the money himself upfront to develop the tools to distribute his work.
Imagine if that technology was readily available to artists for a small fee. Imagine if the New Zealand tech industry was encouraged to go for it.
Another point to end on. Digital Rights Management (DRM) is the technology used by hardware manufacturers, publishers, copyright holders and individuals with the intent to limit the use of digital content and devices after sale.
Companies such as Amazon, AOL, Apple Inc., the BBC, Microsoft and Sony use digital rights management. In 1998 the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) was passed in the United States to impose criminal penalties on those who make available technologies whose primary purpose and function is to circumvent content protection technologies. The use of digital rights management is controversial. Corporations claim that DRM is necessary to fight copyright infringement online and that it can help the copyright holder maintain artistic control or ensure continued revenue streams. Those opposed to DRM argue that there is no evidence that DRM helps prevent copyright infringement and that DRM helps big business stifle innovation and competition. Proponents argue that digital locks should be considered necessary to prevent intellectual property from being stolen, just as physical locks are needed to prevent personal property from being stolen.
I thought it was interesting that I learnt about Louis CK’s online business endeavours through twitter via the ABC’s managing director Mark Scott who tweeted:
“The comedian (is) providing lessons in the future of digital rights management”.
Prescience from the head of Australia’s public broadcaster. It would be good to have a bit more debate about it here.