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His Own Stupid Money
December 11, 2011 7:41 AM   Subscribe

Louis' Challenge: To Torrent or Not The Pirate Bay is discussing (under the link to down the torrent) of the thing Louis CK is asked: Please don't torrent this video. I paid for the whole thing with my own stupid money.

From the 'buy' page:

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.

Sincerely,
Louis C.K.


prev...
posted by victors (230 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
NSFW: Language.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 7:44 AM on December 11, 2011


He's doing an AMA (ask me anything) on Reddit tomorrow, which should be interesting.
posted by Houstonian at 7:49 AM on December 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


I bought this yesterday. Couple of thoughts...

1) I have no problem giving this guy $5.
2)1.2 Gb 1280x720 is kind of unnessecary for a stand-up video. Did Harris Savides shoot it or something?
3) Starts slow kind of slow tbh but gets better. Couple laugh out loud moments for sure.
posted by nathancaswell at 7:52 AM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


the uploader speaks:

"Trusted atndigcrk at 2011-12-11 09:19 CET:
lol at the people downloading and coming to a torrent site to rate my torrent negative and tak sht lol -5 ...."..louis ck is ok with his 5 million net worth"

Almost makes me root for ASCAP.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:54 AM on December 11, 2011 [7 favorites]


I'd remembered hearing about this and being interested, so I'm glad there's another post. I'm buying it because I love Louis, but also because I hope his crazy idea works.

Then again I also don't pirate stuff any more, so maybe I'm not who he's aiming this message at.
posted by codacorolla at 7:56 AM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Then again I also don't pirate stuff any more, so maybe I'm not who he's aiming this message at.

..................
posted by nathancaswell at 7:57 AM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm happy if torrent postings, Pirate Bay threads, etc. identify content not created by MafiAA controlled artists because many pirates will buy the independent stuff just to "stick it to the man".
posted by jeffburdges at 8:01 AM on December 11, 2011 [8 favorites]


My god, always stunned to learn that the moral complexities of file-sharing are way beyond my ability to understand:

@atndigcrk: This is why we can't have nice things. Fine, understandable that eventually *someone* was going to upload this, but the fact that you are also spamming your "make money now" bullshit is absolutely a dick move. Furthermore, it proves you have no idea what freedom of information (or art, in this case) stands for.

It's people like you who ruin file sharing. Your behaviour can be paralleled to a girl in one of my university final examinations some years back. The professor had photocopied the answer key to the back of our examination by mistake and was unaware of it. Midway through the examination, the girl raised her hand and informed the professor. She was known as "that girl" from that day forward.

You are now known as "that guy."


*head implodes*
posted by mediareport at 8:01 AM on December 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


..................

?
posted by drezdn at 8:04 AM on December 11, 2011


If things like the Humble Bundle and Indie Royale games get pirated - and not just through torrents - then why should this guy be treated any different?

But someone somewhere will watch/listen to this then go out and buy his products so it's not all loss. Insert usual argument about piracy driving purchases.
posted by episodic at 8:04 AM on December 11, 2011


?

I bought it... which is rather... unlike me.
posted by nathancaswell at 8:06 AM on December 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


How about this as a morality basis for downloading works? Honor the older copyright law, before it was lobbied into Disney hell. Or rather, here is my updated version since corporations have sopped up old works on the basis of having near eternal rights: 27 years for all works and then renewed for 27 more years if the creator is still receiving the profit from his work.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 8:07 AM on December 11, 2011 [19 favorites]


If things like the Humble Bundle and Indie Royale games get pirated - and not just through torrents - then why should this guy be treated any different?

Really? That's your argument? The fact that bad things happened to other people make it OK for me to do bad things to this guy?

Shit, man.

There are good arguments to be made both ways here, to be clear, but that isn't in the same time zone as any of any of them.
posted by mhoye at 8:09 AM on December 11, 2011 [12 favorites]


2)1.2 Gb 1280x720 is kind of unnessecary for a stand-up video. Did Harris Savides shoot it or something?

Oh, please don't say that out loud. It's the 21st century; when I'm paying cash money for something I like to get it in at least 720p quality. I still watch the occasional DVD, but reluctantly. (And a highly compressed 720p file looks about like a DVD anyway.)

When we started watching this last night, I actually said out loud, "Wow, this looks really nice." Made me feel really good about giving Louis my money. (Also later when I was blowing beer out my nose and almost choking to death on a taco due to teh convulsive gigglez.)
posted by Joey Bagels at 8:11 AM on December 11, 2011 [15 favorites]


I paid for the whole thing with my own stupid money.

I like him but this statement is annoying. You're running a business, don't act like you're doing us a favor. You know the landscape. If the project doesn't turn a profit, don't cry about it.
posted by davebush at 8:12 AM on December 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


mhoye: "If things like the Humble Bundle and Indie Royale games get pirated - and not just through torrents - then why should this guy be treated any different?

Really? That's your argument? The fact that bad things happened to other people make it OK for me to do bad things to this guy?

Shit, man.

There are good arguments to be made both ways here, to be clear, but that isn't in the same time zone as any of any of them.
"

It is very obvious episodic was not saying it was okay for "bad things" to happen to Louis. It is clear he meant that it was naive to think that Louis's show wouldn't be torrented. He compares things like the Humble Bundle where you pay what you want being pirated with Louis's $5 video. Of course it will be pirated.
posted by 2manyusernames at 8:13 AM on December 11, 2011


I thought the idea was a DRM-free product released by the artist enables those who feel the product is worth X dollars or more pay up and those who don't, well don't.

The artist still makes more than they would under the xxAA trickle down process and also keeps control.

5 Dollars? Of course I'll pay I fricking love the guy.
Transformers 3? Not so much.
posted by fullerine at 8:15 AM on December 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


Legal Question:

from the Buy Page:

No DRM, no regional restrictions, no crap. You can download this file, play it as much as you like, burn it to a DVD, whatever.

Since he is saying that one can do whatever they want with the video does this make the torrenting of it legal? Does it make showing it in a public venue legal even if there are paying customers?
posted by 2manyusernames at 8:15 AM on December 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


He was told it would be easier to torrent if he released it this way... how true is that, though? It's certainly not true in any real way compared to releasing on DVD.

Fact is, he released it in a consumer-friendly format, for a reasonable price, he made a reasonable appeal to pirates, and he's getting some good free publicity for it. It'll be interesting to see how he does with this, because this seems like the ideal way (for this consumer, anyway) for content to be released.
posted by Huck500 at 8:15 AM on December 11, 2011 [8 favorites]


I like him but this statement is annoying. You're running a business, don't act like you're doing us a favor. You know the landscape.

His statement is part of the landscape too. Are you really demanding not only the right to torrent this, but the right to not have anybody try to make you feel bad for doing so?
posted by oliverburkeman at 8:17 AM on December 11, 2011 [57 favorites]


He was told it would be easier to torrent if he released it this way... how true is that, though?

Perhaps this is referring to making it available for download rather than restrict it to streaming.
posted by nathancaswell at 8:17 AM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


What mediareport points to is interesting, and hits the heart of the matter for me, really. I'm ok with the Pirate Bay making money on adds to keep up the forum. To me, it's similar to Craigslist's function. They create a gray market, and I'm for that.

But, I won't get behind someone directly pimping out someone else's work. Especially when he's made a polite, reasonable request that this not be done. If you want to share the video for the love of the content, I'm kinda ok with that. If you want to share it to sell your own hiphop and pyramid schemes, you're a shithead.
posted by es_de_bah at 8:18 AM on December 11, 2011 [6 favorites]


From the initial up loaders comments; "IF U LIKE IT BUY IT OR I WILL DELETE IT". Apparently it's not just Louis who doesn't understand how bit torrent works.
posted by Keith Talent at 8:19 AM on December 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


You're running a business, don't act like you're doing us a favor.

He could've gone the safe route, funded it through a number of other companies, and fans would've had to buy it for $20. He didn't; he took a personal risk and fans pay $5 for it. This is literally what ethically based file sharing advocates are asking for; for money to go directly to the artist and for works of art to be a reasonable price.

Of course, this doesn't stop assholes who want whatever they want for themselves regardless of the cost to others from stealing it, but I think he's asking you to stop and think about your actions for a moment before you go down that route.

All artists are running a business if they're commercial, that doesn't negate the fact that there's a personal risk to making it cheaper for your fans to consume your art.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 8:20 AM on December 11, 2011 [84 favorites]


This is my personal comment. I spent my own time making it ...please do not co-y it for free.
posted by Postroad at 8:20 AM on December 11, 2011


To answer the Legal Question from 2manyusernames, there is a typical Terms and Conditions page if you click through to the buy page. It's basically the same as any other terms and conditions for this kind of content.

Perhaps this is referring to making it available for download rather than restrict it to streaming.

Yeah, that makes sense.
posted by Huck500 at 8:21 AM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


never mind my legal question. I see in the actual buy page there are terms and conditions which detail what can and can not be done with the file.
posted by 2manyusernames at 8:22 AM on December 11, 2011


I like him but this statement is annoying. You're running a business, don't act like you're doing us a favor. You know the landscape. If the project doesn't turn a profit, don't cry about it.

You really don't see a difference between one artist taking on the financial risk of producing a program themselves and HBO doing the same? I'm sure Louis CK isn't poor, but it's not like all he has to do is cut a couple of extras and their costumes from Game of Thrones to free up the money, you know?
posted by jacquilynne at 8:22 AM on December 11, 2011 [8 favorites]


You're running a business, don't act like you're doing us a favor.

Ummm, actually he is doing us a favor. He's offering a product a lot of us want at a highly affordable price that would otherwise be unavailable if he hadn't taken the time to create it. That's what running a business is. Providing services and commodities is, on the grand scale of civilization, a huge fucking favor.

In contrast, my "favorite" comments are the ones that were variations of "I just downloaded this torrent. I like it. I guess I'll give him money now." So.... yeah you just stole his product, buddy. If Snickers wants to give free samples or coupons for a new product, that's their prerogative; it doesn't mean I'm morally justified in shoplifting a candy bar and coming back later to pay for it because I thought it was delicious.

That's why the Humble Indie Bundle- which was offered on a pay-what-you-can scale- was still stolen in mass percentages by torrenters. We have an entitlement generation who all feel it's their right to determine the value of a product after they've declared the value as $0.

The entitlement generation that takes first and makes excuses later is the group that isn't doing anyone a favor. Anonymous Commenter #17 isn't doing Louis CK a "favor" by humbly giving him the money he should have paid in the first place after torrenting his material. If it makes him/her feel morally sound, so be it. Still a dick move.

Now maybe Louis CK should have a better business sense for this: perhaps a preview clip, a demo, etc. something to entice a casual viewer to know what they'll be getting for their five bucks. But oh well. He's the owner and content provider. It's his right to have a shitty distribution model; it's not my right to steal it because his distribution model isn't handed to me on a golden platter. Luckily I already know he's great so he has my five bucks.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:24 AM on December 11, 2011 [24 favorites]


(Adding: okay so as I'm buying I see he did put up a demo reel. So there you go. But my point still stands.)
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:25 AM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Guess I'll pony up the $5. Torrance is a little out of my way.
posted by hal9k at 8:25 AM on December 11, 2011 [8 favorites]


The modern Louis CK torrenter is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.
posted by weinbot at 8:26 AM on December 11, 2011 [25 favorites]


An hour of new Louis CK material.

In HD.

For five dollars.

And it only took 12 minutes to download it.

These are wondrous times we live in.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:29 AM on December 11, 2011 [33 favorites]


It is very obvious episodic was not saying it was okay for "bad things" to happen to Louis. It is clear he meant that it was naive to think that Louis's show wouldn't be torrented.

If he'd asked "why will this be different" that would be one thing and you'd be right. But he asked why it should be different, and those words mean different things.

I like him but this statement is annoying. You're running a business, don't act like you're doing us a favor.

He is, in fact, doing his audience a favor by not going through the variety of much more onerous channels available.
posted by mhoye at 8:31 AM on December 11, 2011


He is, in fact, doing his audience a favour by not going through the variety of much more onerous channels available.

There's nice of him.
I'll do him the favour of giving him a fiver for it then.

If he didn't do his favour, would I still need to do mine?
posted by fullerine at 8:34 AM on December 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


@mhoye - what 2manyusernames said is my position. People can pay less than $1 for the game bundles but you'll still see them being pirated. I hope this works out for the guy - and I have no idea who he is - and I'm sure his plea will sway some.
But someone at his normal production studio will say "Hey look, 10,000 torrents, that's 10,000 lost sales" and that is also wrong. This company will exploit his naivety just as much as the pirates. The losers? Genuine fans.

I'm not justifying piracy at all regardless of reason.
posted by episodic at 8:36 AM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wait, you mean all the righteous self-justifications for torrenting, such as anti-corporatism, have been revealed to be nothing but a thin patina covering vast depths of "I want free shit and don't care who gets hurt"? No! Say it isn't so!

The losers? Genuine fans.

And, you know, Louis C.K.
posted by Justinian at 8:37 AM on December 11, 2011 [19 favorites]


Wait, you mean all the righteous self-justifications for torrenting, such as anti-corporatism, have been revealed to be nothing but a thin patina covering vast depths of "I want free shit and don't care who gets hurt"?

Obviously not, as there are people who are paying for this, and arguing it should not be torrrented on Pirate Bay itself. A few seem to be ignoring this, but, then, you have no evidence that those few subscribe to the philosophy you have placed in their mouths.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:42 AM on December 11, 2011 [6 favorites]


And, you know, Louis C.K.

True - but he is taking the gamble here and he must know it. The genuine fans will have no choice when the effects of this mean possibly higher prices or DRM in the future.
posted by episodic at 8:42 AM on December 11, 2011


...I have no idea who he is...

Here's a good place to start.
posted by Huck500 at 8:43 AM on December 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


You know what, it's one thing to pirate content, and it's another thing to be a shitturd about it. Sometimes it's more convenient to obtain something through torrents than through legal methods, because for whatever reason acquiring that thing you're looking for is a pain in the ass. Sometimes you're not committed enough to something to want to throw down money for it when there's no alternative; sometimes I want to give an episode of a TV show a try but I don't want to pay $40 for a fucking season DVD. (Or else I'm trying to catch up with a TV show so that I can start paying money for the current episodes.) And sometimes it's just that you don't think something is worth the money somebody wants to charge you, which isn't actually your call to make, but it's a call that gets made all the time anyway, so no hard feelings.

Louis CK is one of the best comedians alive, arguably the best. He throws out his show every year to write a new hour of original material, which he does because he feels his fans are entitled to seeing something new rather than repeat content. He's a huge supporter of independent material; his last show, Hilarious, was independently produced, and now he's looking into independent distribution, cutting out the middleman, trying to get as close to "one guy practicing his trade" as you can possibly get as a stand-up comic. And he's released his latest hour for five dollars, cheaper than the cost a decent deli sandwich, and when you pay that you get to download a file and do whatever with it. Totally convenient. None of the bullshit that content providers go through. Ridiculously cheap. And you're paying for some of the best stand-up comedy of the year.

He's lowered the bar significantly enough that I can't imagine having a decent excuse not to give him your money. But you know what, torrent it anyway if you don't respect the guy, whatever. Just don't be a condescending moral-issues prick about it, because he's done everything he possibly can to give you his work as conveniently as possible. He's doing a great thing and people are shitting over it.
posted by Rory Marinich at 8:43 AM on December 11, 2011 [53 favorites]


Ethics question:

Are those that download this torrent and give five dollars to Louis C.K. (at least one person) behaving better than those that buy his content and downloading it from him?

(the torrent downloads aren't costing Louis any bandwidth costs; it's like paying for the snickers bar, but not actually taking it from the shelf).

Note to Louis: when pirate bay says there have been 10,000 downloads of this torrent, please consider that may only represent 9,995 assholes; the other five are supportive fans.
posted by el io at 8:43 AM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness

And I just came here from Facebook to escape all the philosophy TAs posting risible final exam quotes!
posted by Beardman at 8:46 AM on December 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


I love that these conversations are happening, anyway. They're happening everywhere. He plopped a huge, flat rock in the pond, and the ripples are spreading outward. I love when Louis CK does that.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 8:46 AM on December 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


"The entitlement generation that takes first and makes excuses later is the group that isn't doing anyone a favor."

This isn't generational. This is an artefact of the fact that the incremental cost of bits is zero. It's a new and recent thing, but it's an irrevocable fact of the digital age: if your product can be distributed as ones and zeros, then making an infinite number of copies of it and distributing it around the world costs nothing.

So how do artists get paid in that context? Well, right now we just straight up don't have an answer to that. None. There is no consistent response to that fact that doesn't amount to "please don't do that." And that's not nothing, to be clear, but it's also not enforceable in any real sense.

We don't have a way of making sure that artists who create digital media get paid per copy. That thing doesn't, and provably can't, exist. That's not good or bad, any more than gravity is good or bad. It's just a fact. All our supply/demand stuff lives on curves, and in the digital-media environment, you either have zero of something or an infinite amount of them. There's no curve. However valuable that content is, you still have to provide something else to make that transaction a compelling one, over the alternatives.

In some cases (the iTunes store) that's device integration and reliable metadata. Lewis C.K. like lots of others are going the street-performer route, ease of access and a direct connection with the artist, but there's lots of other options. There's lots of room here for new ideas. There's provably no one answer, but there's probably lots of good-enough answers, knowing that free-from-a-stranger is always going to be an alternative.

Historically, when moral frameworks are aligned along technological lines, that has always resulted in painful societal upheaval when technology has changed. That's not good or bad either, and it's also a fact.
posted by mhoye at 8:46 AM on December 11, 2011 [33 favorites]


1.2 Gb 1280x720 is kind of unnessecary for a stand-up video.

There's a choice of a "standard definition" version, 360 MB, if you'd prefer. Perhaps it's not mentioned until you get to the download page, I don't know.
posted by ceiriog at 8:47 AM on December 11, 2011


@mhoye - what 2manyusernames said is my position.

I misinterpreted it, then, and I apologize.
posted by mhoye at 8:48 AM on December 11, 2011


What he's doing is being the Trent Reznor of comedy. Five bucks is a reasonable price for what he's offering, but he's simply dipping his toe into the reality of today's entertainment industry. He's taking a risk, but he's doing something entrepreneurial, not saintly.
posted by davebush at 8:48 AM on December 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


5$ eh? That's the same as in town...
posted by fuq at 8:51 AM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


But someone at his normal production studio will say "Hey look, 10,000 torrents, that's 10,000 lost sales" and that is also wrong. This company will exploit his naivety just as much as the pirates. The losers? Genuine fans.

There may be some truth to that. But Louis is about as smart as they come - he's obviously playing dumb a little bit in his appeal. If this makes him more money than the standard Comedy Central route, he'll keep doing it.

And I'd love to see that happen. Stand-up is meant to be seen in full-length performances, not little Youtube snippets. There are a lot of comedians out there that I've gotten curious about by hearing them interviewed on WTF or elsewhere, but I'm not curious enough to pay $20+ on their specials. Five dollars is perfect.
posted by roll truck roll at 8:52 AM on December 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Thanks for the posting - just bought the video.
Five Dollars is pretty cheap and I like supporting artists directly!
posted by homodigitalis at 8:52 AM on December 11, 2011


Are you really demanding not only the right to torrent this, but the right to not have anybody try to make you feel bad for doing so?

Nope to both.
posted by davebush at 8:54 AM on December 11, 2011


If all producers of pirate-able content did it the way Louis CK is doing it here, piracy would never have become so much of a thing.

Of course I just read Rolling Stone's interview with him (can't find it online, sorry -- yes I read it in an actual paper magazine!) and from what I understand from the interview, when he says "I did it myself", he really means, he really sat at a computer cutting that video together in Final Cut Pro. The way he got the cost down was to cut out all the middlemen, which is never going to make all the middlemen happy. But for the benefit of both artists and fans I wish more people were the kind of control-freak about their art that Louis CK is.
posted by mstokes650 at 8:55 AM on December 11, 2011 [14 favorites]


He's taking a risk, but he's doing something entrepreneurial, not saintly.

Can't it be both? Of course he wants to make money, but he'd make plenty of that going the typical route. Is it impossible to imagine that at least part of the decision to take a risk by allowing DRM-free download is to make things easier for his fans? Is every decision by every artist driven by a callous desire to make money?
posted by Huck500 at 8:58 AM on December 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


PayPal? I guess he'll get his money in 6 months.

"Please bear in mind that I am not a company or a corporation. I'm just some guy."

Yeah, let's flag that account for review.
posted by morganw at 8:59 AM on December 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


He's taking a risk, but he's doing something entrepreneurial, not saintly.

He's not taking a risk. This project paid for itself before it was even uploaded.

The theater he performed in? I doubt he gave all those tickets away for free. That right there, the sales of those theater tickets, probably made enough money to 1) pay for the theater rental, 2) pay for the staff required to put on the show, 3) paid for the people running the cameras, and 4) still put money into Louis' pocket.

He edited the show himself.

So, after he edited the show, he still had to pay for a website to be designed. That may have cost a bit, I have no idea. It's pretty bare-bones overall, but it looks nice. I doubt it could have cost more than $1000, but I could be wrong about that.

Okay, so, he's now released this concert movie for $5 a download. It isn't going to take very many downloads before any investment required with the website creation and bandwidth for serving the video is paid for.

Ta-da!!! He's making money. At $5 a pop (which is cheaper than an Extra Value Meal at any fast food restaurant), he's set the price at a basic "throwaway money" level, so a lot more people will impulse buy it than would a $10 movie from iTunes. Since you get to keep it, it's a better deal than a $3 online streaming rental.

This is shrewd businessmanship for Louis. But it's not a risk. He was making money on it before it was ever uploaded.
posted by hippybear at 9:00 AM on December 11, 2011 [9 favorites]


the torrent downloads aren't costing Louis any bandwidth costs; it's like paying for the snickers bar, but not actually taking it from the shelf

The bittorrent bandwidth comes from the other torrenters. Since most of them presumably did not send Louis $5, that option only exists (as a practical matter) because a large number of people downloaded the show without paying for it. Further, bittorrent is a two-way street. The person who chipped in the $5 also helped facilitate downloading by people who, presumably, did not pay for it.

I would be surprised if the numbers washed out such that it was better for Louis's bottom line if people paid him $5 and then torrented it. I suspect it would only work out if a very large fraction of the torrenters paid the $5.
posted by jedicus at 9:02 AM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


In contrast, my "favorite" comments are the ones that were variations of "I just downloaded this torrent. I like it. I guess I'll give him money now." So.... yeah you just stole his product, buddy. If Snickers wants to give free samples or coupons for a new product, that's their prerogative; it doesn't mean I'm morally justified in shoplifting a candy bar and coming back later to pay for it because I thought it was delicious.

I agree with your overarching point, but just want to point out that it simply isn't theft in the same sense that stealing a physical product is. When someone pirates a recording, that has no impact on the seller's ability to turn around and sell to someone else. Electronic files aren't scarce, so pirating them doesn't necessarily result in an economic loss, if the person stealing would under no circumstances have paid for the product anyway.

Anyway, silver lining here is I think Louis CK has made a shrewd business move by attracting attention to this debate, because I like him but didn't know he had a new show available and now I'll probably buy it.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 9:11 AM on December 11, 2011 [6 favorites]


all the righteous self-justifications for torrenting, such as anti-corporatism, have been revealed to be nothing but a thin patina...

Wrong. From the looks of it, Louie C.K. seems to be proving the opposite...that if you go directly to the audience and treat them fairly you will curry a great deal of support and many will defend you. Because there are a few people who will still justify torrenting this, it doesn't mean that the whole argument against the current distribution of this type of thing wrong.
posted by Hypnotic Chick at 9:12 AM on December 11, 2011 [18 favorites]


This is shrewd businessmanship for Louis. But it's not a risk. He was making money on it before it was ever uploaded.

Do you want to show your math on this one? I say this because for starters, you've left off any PR costs that would be associated with this...which will probably be substantial, as his normal distribution company isn't making any money and therefore not offsetting his travel costs or any ad buys that would be related to this project and promoting it.

You've set a number of best case scenario prices ($1000 for an e-commerce website, really?) and assumptions which I think you should revisit before you assume he's cost neutral going into the downloading part.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 9:15 AM on December 11, 2011 [4 favorites]



He's not taking a risk. This project paid for itself before it was even uploaded

He edited the show himself


If you don't believe ones time has value I will let you spend a month cleaning my basement. It's not hard physical labor and I'll even let you listen to your iPod while you do it.
posted by phearlez at 9:16 AM on December 11, 2011 [17 favorites]


This is shrewd businessmanship for Louis. But it's not a risk. He was making money on it before it was ever uploaded.
posted by hippybear


Just because he will almost certainly make a profit does not make it risk-free. By going on his own, he's forgoing the opportunity cost of selling a whole year's worth of new material to HBO or Showtime. That's guaranteed money right there, with less effort on his part, I'd imagine. It remains to be seen which route is more profitable.
posted by skewed at 9:19 AM on December 11, 2011 [14 favorites]


Bought it, watched it, liked it, was it worth it? Yep.
posted by e40 at 9:21 AM on December 11, 2011


I say this because for starters, you've left off any PR costs that would be associated with this...which will probably be substantial, as his normal distribution company isn't making any money and therefore not offsetting his travel costs or any ad buys that would be related to this project and promoting it.

My comment was all napkin speculation, and I made it clear from the outset I had no hard and fast figures.

I'm curious why you think there are PR costs associated with this. Have you seen advertisements on television promoting this downloadable concert? Have you seen him making any late night talk show appearances pushing his product?

I suspect this will have legs which work just fine via word of mouth and social networking. The PR costs are probably zero.

Anyway, what information do YOU have about how much that website might have cost to design? You sounds like you know something, but all you do is question my speculations without backing up your skepticism with anything hard and fast.

If you don't believe ones time has value

I didn't say that, and your snark is silly. But if Louis' time has value, it's value which he creates on his own. In a project like this, he's not getting an hourly wage. That's not how stand-up comics are paid. He edited it himself, rather than paying someone to do it. It's value rolled into the cost structure simply by his choices.

If you really want me to clean out your basement, I'm going to need to draw up a contract specifying how you pay for my travel, food, and lodging expenses. I can have quite a healthy appetite, and I demand many amenities.
posted by hippybear at 9:23 AM on December 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hippybear's contract always comes with a rider demanding rose petals in his toilet water and bowls full of chartreuse M&Ms, which must be hand painted. It's kind of a pain in the ass, but, then, his basement cleaning is guaranteed to draw at least 18,000 at $32 a ticket, so it's worth it.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:26 AM on December 11, 2011 [8 favorites]


edit: I just threw in the word "opportunity cost" because it sounds economic-y, shoulda just written "opportunity".
posted by skewed at 9:27 AM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you don't believe ones time has value I will let you spend a month cleaning my basement.

This isn't Louis CK cleaning out some dude on the internet's basement for free. It's him cleaning out his own basement, so he can charge people for tours of it.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 9:27 AM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


> Anyway, what information do YOU have about how much that website might have cost to design? You sounds like you know something, but all you do is question my speculations without backing up your skepticism with anything hard and fast.

I agree with Rodrigo Lamaitre here. I seriously doubt he would get the site for under $1000. Especially since it looks like it's designed (and possibly built) by Version Industries, who have some big-name clients and likely won't come cheap.

I don't know what kind of money Louis CK set aside for the site, but he could easily have spent over $1000 for the design alone.
posted by bjrn at 9:28 AM on December 11, 2011


By going on his own, he's forgoing the opportunity cost of selling a whole year's worth of new material to HBO or Showtime.
C.K. told The New York Times last month he decided to try a new route after HBO rejected his previous stand-up special, “Hilarious,” noting his first stab at an unconventional sitcom (the bawdy "Lucky Louie") no longer graced its airwaves.

"Why should I go through a cable network when I can just give it directly to the people who want to see it?" C.K. told The Times. "It’s so much easier, and it’s an interesting experiment.”*
Also
Louis C. K. has been featured in the standup specials “Shameless,” which ran on HBO in 2007, and the Emmy Award-nominated “Chewed Up,” which appeared on Showtime in 2008. His most recent standup show, “Hilarious,” was presented at the Sundance Film Festival and picked up by the Epix cable channel, earning him two more Emmy nominations.

But in recent years, he said, the cable channels have become increasingly difficult and unnecessary platforms for him to present these kinds of shows.

“HBO used to be the thing,” Louis C. K. said. “It used to be called an HBO special, even if you had a special on Showtime – people would call it your HBO special. But HBO gave up that. They don’t do it anymore. I offered them ‘Hilarious,’ to broadcast, and they said, ‘Well, we don’t do any business with you. You don’t have a show on HBO, so we don’t have a reason to promote you that way.’”

Showtime, he said, “was really nice but they don’t really push stuff, they just kind of stick it on.” And Comedy Central is “a weird place – they show too many commercials and they cut all the cursing out.”*
posted by hippybear at 9:29 AM on December 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


Is it really meaningful to have a righteousness debate over any particular piece of work? Without addressing the broader context of copyright, arguing that everyone has to have the same moral outlook as you do in this or the other instance seems to have little value beyond self-gratification.
posted by cheburashka at 9:29 AM on December 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is it. This is the clear dividing line between theft and not. It can't get any easier to pay for this. You either steal it or you don't. You wanna steal it? No one, literally no one, can stop you.

But let's be clear. Any attempt to rationalize this (e.g. he's a business, he made money already, fuck the man) is simply delusional. Delusional.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:30 AM on December 11, 2011 [18 favorites]


Have you seen him making any late night talk show appearances pushing his product?

He was on Conan three weeks ago. I don't watch the rest, so I have no idea if he's been on the rest.

Anyway, what information do YOU have about how much that website might have cost to design? You sounds like you know something, but all you do is question my speculations without backing up your skepticism with anything hard and fast.

I'm an ex web developer who would've LAUGHED at $1,000 for a website involving any type of secure transactions and high bandwidth requirements, never mind the actual hosting fees.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 9:32 AM on December 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


Look, any time you produce ANYTHING, a bunch of people are going to see it for free. Who cares? Either enough people pay for it to make it worth producing or they don't. The number of people that got it for free have 0 impact on the decision making process behind it. If this thing cost him a million dollars to make (I doubt it) and 250,000 people paid for it, and a million people downloaded it, he maid a $250,000 profit on it. Even if a million people torrented it. Even if 10,000,000 people torrented it. No number of people torrenting this will make him 'lose money'. All that matters is that enough people actually pay for it.

I paid $50 to see the live show already. I'll probably buy the show anyway, because I want more people to see Louis CK stuff, whether they pay for it or not, so I'd like him to keep making these shows.

A couple of years ago when I wasn't working and had no money, though? I'd have torrented it, with 0 ethical qualms about it, and I don't at all care if anyone else does.
posted by empath at 9:32 AM on December 11, 2011 [17 favorites]


I also think Louis Ck is a clever fucker who totally gets "the torrent thing" and knows exactly what he is doing.

Dude is gonna notch the fuck out of this.
posted by fullerine at 9:35 AM on December 11, 2011 [10 favorites]


Smart move. I'll be shocked if this doesn't make a good profit for him regardless of piracy. I bet he could have offered it online for free with a donation button and still done well.

I feel like the plea to not torrent is sincere but also a great publicity move. More people will talk about it, fans will mobilize, etc.

It's awesome though, more comics need to do this. He's got my $5.
posted by frenetic at 9:35 AM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am absolutely dumbfounded by what some people consider logic and critical thinking.
posted by humboldt32 at 9:36 AM on December 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


This is it. This is the clear dividing line between theft and not. It can't get any easier to pay for this.

The dividing line on what's theft is how easy it is to pay for something? If the line at the store is too long, shoplifting becomes more moral? You are probably referring to ease-of-access as a justification for "piracy," but that is by far not the only argument against copyright.
posted by cheburashka at 9:39 AM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


But it's not a risk. He was making money on it before it was ever uploaded.

Sure, if by "it" you mean the concert itself. Yes, he made money on the live concert. However, the web offering is a different matter. He had to sink his own money into that, money which otherwise could've stayed in his pocket risk free. He did that in order to possibly make even more money. In other words, a risk.

And besides, just because you make a guaranteed profit doesn't mean you're not taking a risk. Let's say you take two months to write a screenplay, during which time you burn through $10,000 in various expenses. You are given an offer sell it to a movie studio for $200,000 clear. Or you can sell it for $20K plus some percentage of the film's profit. Would you concede the second route is a risk, even though you're guaranteed a $10K profit?
posted by xigxag at 9:41 AM on December 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


davebush: "What he's doing is being the Trent Reznor of comedy. Five bucks is a reasonable price for what he's offering, but he's simply dipping his toe into the reality of today's entertainment industry. He's taking a risk, but he's doing something entrepreneurial, not saintly."

But when you have a cartel that runs the joint - it's not just "entrepreneurial" -- he knows who butters his bread, and he's taking a risk by doing things his own way. To use the quote that Reznor used as a title of his song he's "biting the hand that feeds".

I'm all for that.

I'm all for pirating in general, but I'm all for supporting artists who do this, because it helps them more than the middle man. It's not easy doing all the shit yourself (hell, that's why they have middlemen). So when I read this my first instinct was to go and give him my money. (as they like to say on reddit "SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!")...

When I saw this on reddit, I was at work, and had forgotten by the end of the day - so thanks for this post -- while I think he's ok, I'm not a huge fan, but damn if I can't get out there and support someone who is decent and talented and hardworking and trying to do something innovative and taking a risk. I don't even know if I'd download it, just give him the money because I support this move.
posted by symbioid at 9:42 AM on December 11, 2011


One thing that bugs me about this new model is how well it works for established names (Trent Reznor, Radiohead, Louis CK, Cory Doctorow...) and how poorly it works for anyone who isn't already a celebrity recognized for their craft.

People espousing free culture like to say that the artists will just make money in different ways, such as lectures and performances and book signings. That doesn't work for anyone who doesn't already have a huge audience; Louis CK will make thousands and thousands of dollars through this, but a comic starting out would be hard-pressed to make $20.

Sure, those starting comics can make a few bucks each night doing open mics and the like, but judging from the comments relating to Louis CK's experiment, many here don't think the ticket price is worth it. The previous models of artistic distribution, where distribution was limited to physical copies or the audience being there in person, had a much clearer method for supporting people starting out. That can't be underestimated. Failure, and the ability to eke out a few bucks while learning the craft, is a valuable part of getting to the level where an artist can afford to do a $5/viewer digital experiment like this and absorb the economic impact of 50% of the audience pirating his or her material.

He's not taking a risk. This project paid for itself before it was even uploaded.

And that's what makes this model tenable for well-known artists and no one else. Louis didn't need to rent a performance space and can afford sophisticated recording, editing, and distribution infrastructure. That's a mighty steep hurdle for anyone who isn't already successful in their art.

Louis CK also benefited from working for 20 years (or however long) under previous distribution models where his work could not be pirated as easily as it can be now.
posted by msbrauer at 9:47 AM on December 11, 2011 [16 favorites]


Anyways, the point isn't whether or not Louis CK is going to make money off of this; he's a star, and most of what he does is going to make him some significant money. The point is that he took an element (small or large, nobody really knows) of risk to offer his product for 1/4 or what it would normally sell for, in an easily downloadable format.

I hope he makes a metric fuckton of money on this, because it will show other artists that they can do the same and get some of the cruft and corporate greed out of transactions between artists and fans.

If you want more of the same (Comedy Central's swear-free crap, or HBO's $15 a month package on your television) then keep encouraging the idea that Louis is just another corporate moneymaker at work, but don't complain when better DRM, more lawsuits from ASCAP and the like keep coming down the pipeline. That's what the existing model of corporate sponsored comedy is currently supporting and I think getting a little money out of the hands of some of these corporations is a good thing, even if Louis makes $5 million in the process. That's a better world for me.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 9:48 AM on December 11, 2011 [6 favorites]


Any attempt to rationalize this (e.g. he's a business, he made money already, fuck the man) is simply delusional.

Hey, if he didn't want me to take his new TV, he should've locked his door, amirite?

(Kidding, kidding. Paid for it, downloaded it, burned it to DVD. Looking forward to watching it on my own TV this evening. Sight unseen, it's a bargain at twice the price, because it's Louis CK dammit and he's the best stand-up working today, and the fact that unlike a great many people of his talent and success level he remains a decent and honest guy who really does give a shit about his audience is just gravy.)
posted by gompa at 9:49 AM on December 11, 2011


This is it. This is the clear dividing line between theft and not.

Seeing as we're discussing copyright infringement, which, in copyright law, is not defined as theft, I would suggest the dividing line is quite a bit less clear than you present it as. If what you mean is "Here is a dividing line between what I think of as moral and what I think of as immoral," that's fine, but others may not place the line in the same place.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:49 AM on December 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


You're running a business, don't act like you're doing us a favor.

YMMV, but I clicked the link specifically because of the remark, "I paid for the whole thing with my own stupid money." His writing that led directly to my purchase, because yes, knowing that he put his own cash into this investment makes it a more compelling purchase than a DVD, where some unknown residual percentage would eventually trickle down upon him after the corporate behemoth takes the lion's share.

Also, I don't see the implication that he's doing us a favor. Rather, he's asking a favor from us. The exact opposite.
posted by xigxag at 9:51 AM on December 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's pretty funny, if you like Louis C.K. you should cough up the five beans.
posted by Divine_Wino at 9:51 AM on December 11, 2011


It's pretty funny, if you like Louis C.K. you should cough up the five beans.

THEY ARE STILL ON MY PLATE AND I HAVEN'T FINISHED OVERTHINKING THEM.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:52 AM on December 11, 2011 [15 favorites]


A torrenting controversy over a comedy special that's 75% about the categorical imperative? That's funny.

The special is also very funny, and you should go buy it. Louis was nice enough to know people were going to torrent it and released this super-high-quality non-DRM video file anyway.
posted by Apropos of Something at 9:54 AM on December 11, 2011


If Louis CK's net worth is really only $5M, then I need to find the form to donate more than five bucks.

He's a national fucking treasure.
posted by rokusan at 9:54 AM on December 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


I don't really like Louis C.K. so I'm not downloading, torrenting, or paying for this content. However:

one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness


I think there are two main sides in the content distribution conflict: monopolistic, rent-seeking content "producers" who want to exploit consumers for maximum gain, and free loading college students who want to get everything for free. Both of these groups agree that if (illegal, but unenforceable) content is available, some users will download it. They also seem to agree that as this content becomes easier (harder) to acquire, more (fewer) users will do so, and fewer (more) users will pay content "producers".

Louis C.K. seems to think that this relationship does not hold. Why? because of either:

1) Individuals respecting the innate property rights/fairness of human society
2) The strength of his brand coupled with the fact that his fans feel they have a personal connection with him.

If (1), why would Louis C.K. expect this to hold for his work only? It seems that Louis really expects (2), the fact that his fans don't want to steal from him in particular. So which group here is really the most delusional? It seems that the first two groups have a reasonable set of assumptions on how consumers react to explicit and implicit costs. So it's really either Louis C.K. mistakenly thinking he has a personal connection with his fans, or, more likely, his fans thinking they have a personal connection with him, which is ultimately a sad psychological trick brought about by the branding of his previous mass entertainment work.
posted by The Ted at 9:58 AM on December 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


One thing that bugs me about this new model is how well it works for established names (Trent Reznor, Radiohead, Louis CK, Cory Doctorow...) and how poorly it works for anyone who isn't already a celebrity recognized for their craft.

The latter can use something like the equivalent of the Humble Indie Bundle. Attach their efforts to a kind of low-overhead clearinghouse which recommends them and provides cachet.

And anyway, someone could just as easily say: One thing that bugs me about the current distribution model is how well it works for established names (Trent Reznor, Radiohead, Louis CK, Cory Doctorow...) and how poorly it works for anyone who isn't already a celebrity recognized for their craft.

Unrecognized people tend to get screwed regardless, IOW.
posted by xigxag at 9:58 AM on December 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sure, those starting comics can make a few bucks each night doing open mics and the like, but judging from the comments relating to Louis CK's experiment, many here don't think the ticket price is worth it. The previous models of artistic distribution, where distribution was limited to physical copies or the audience being there in person, had a much clearer method for supporting people starting out. That can't be underestimated. Failure, and the ability to eke out a few bucks while learning the craft, is a valuable part of getting to the level where an artist can afford to do a $5/viewer digital experiment like this and absorb the economic impact of 50% of the audience pirating his or her material.

I have never heard of starting comics releasing comedy specials or albums via the old method, either. That's something you do after you've paid your dues and earned enough audience respect to have a market for such things.

Starting comics are going to have to come up through the established performance spaces doing their craft in front of an audience like they always have. That isn't going to change.

If anything might change for the less experienced comics, it would be that they, in theory, could sell download codes on cards or point people to their website for paid downloads while at those physical locations as they earn their way into star status. They might make a bit of money doing that while cutting out the middlemen who would stand in the way of having an album or DVD out in stores.

But yeah, someone just starting out, putting a comedy concert online for a $5 download? If they weren't getting DVD and HBO specials in the old system because they weren't well-known enough, they likely wouldn't be well-known enough today to succeed with the new model.
posted by hippybear at 10:00 AM on December 11, 2011


I download a lot BBC stuff that I can't get. I download audiobooks I can't find for sale. I bought this as soon as I saw it. Because I love Louis CK and the price is right.

Today on Amazon I was looking at a book I own to see the kindle price. The book was written in 1986 but has a new trade paperback edition. The book is $10.87 the kindle edition is $9.99. A 25 year old ebook that costs more than it did in it's original form (I have it as a paperback). I can buy the used hardback for less than a dollar and even with the $4 shipping it's still cheaper than the ebook. My immediate thought was gee I wonder if it's online somewhere.
posted by doctor_negative at 10:06 AM on December 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


One thing that bugs me about the current distribution model is how well it works for established names (Trent Reznor, Radiohead, Louis CK, Cory Doctorow...) and how poorly it works for anyone who isn't already a celebrity recognized for their craft. Unrecognized people tend to get screwed regardless, IOW.

Agreed. Which is why it bothers me that these new models are celebrated as being much different. For the people for whom it works, it's a bit better than the old model (though I think you could find a long line of artists, authors, and musicians, who aren't happy with having to fill their new roles as accountants, publicists, web designers, etc.). For everyone else, it's as good or bad as the old model, and there are a thousands of people happy to call you every sort of name you can imagine when you ask for some money for your work.

Your point about the Humble Bundle is well taken, but I have my suspicions about that model, too. I suspect it wouldn't work for a group of painters to band together and release a pay-what-you-please pack of prints. I'd love to be proved wrong about that, though.
posted by msbrauer at 10:10 AM on December 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sometimes you're not committed enough to something to want to throw down money for it when there's no alternative

Then, perhaps, you are not committed enough to consume that thing. I mean, it's not like you have some overpowering force that is making you watch it, right? You could chose to say "$5? Too much. I'll go do something else."

I agree with your overarching point, but just want to point out that it simply isn't theft in the same sense that stealing a physical product is. When someone pirates a recording, that has no impact on the seller's ability to turn around and sell to someone else. Electronic files aren't scarce, so pirating them doesn't necessarily result in an economic loss, if the person stealing would under no circumstances have paid for the product anyway.

Well, except you are $5 richer, and you have his show. Sure, he has still has his show, but not the money he asked you to pay him for watching the show. Basically, he doesn't have your "eyes," which he can't get from anyone else. So you are still a thief.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:12 AM on December 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm sure Louis CK isn't poor,

He discusses this in the show. He talks about how he flies first class and how everything in his life is a better version of what we have. He says he expects about another year of this before he's back with the rest of us.

I bought the download but converted and burned it to a DVD with pirated software.
posted by Obscure Reference at 10:13 AM on December 11, 2011


I have never heard of starting comics releasing comedy specials or albums via the old method, either.

I've seen comics and punk bands and authors sell out of self-published pieces (albums, t-shirts, books) after really impressing an audience. There's many a musician that's paid their way across the country with modest payment from the venues they play and selling a few burned cd's after the set.
posted by msbrauer at 10:13 AM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


PayPal? I guess he'll get his money in 6 months.

"Please bear in mind that I am not a company or a corporation. I'm just some guy."

Yeah, let's flag that account for review.


Oh my God, yes, Paypal, please do piss him off. Make Louis C.K. angry. Freeze his account, give him a bullshit excuse, be rude to him on the phone, do all of the fucked up things you do to small independent merchants every day. Yes. Pleaseohpleaseohplease. MAKE HIM REALLY MAD.
posted by louche mustachio at 10:14 AM on December 11, 2011 [27 favorites]


The DVD of his FX show (season 1) was copy protected. I wonder whose decision that was?
posted by Obscure Reference at 10:17 AM on December 11, 2011


In related news, Bill Maher will be streaming a show for free online at the end of February. (NYT)
posted by hippybear at 10:19 AM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've seen comics and punk bands and authors sell out of self-published pieces (albums, t-shirts, books) after really impressing an audience. There's many a musician that's paid their way across the country with modest payment from the venues they play and selling a few burned cd's after the set.

That's pretty much my point. They have to be out there, doing the low-rung-on-the-ladder gigs and earning their cred one audience at a time. If they do well, they sell stuff in the lobby. If they don't, then at least they got payed a bit for the gig, on to the next one.

But you won't be able to spring from selling a few burned CDs into being successful with this $5-download model instantly. It takes hard word and a lot of miles. I was responding to the people saying "unknowns can't succeed with this". And yes, that's exactly true.
posted by hippybear at 10:23 AM on December 11, 2011


Louis CK and MetaFilter now have something in common!

my $5
posted by hypersloth at 10:28 AM on December 11, 2011 [7 favorites]


that one "AIDS tree" joke he made has made me kind of nervous about his potential to say something else that may be 'off'. i worry he's going to answer one of those reddit questions with something that makes it impossible for me to like him.
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 10:32 AM on December 11, 2011


I watched this at my friend's house on his computer. TWICE. I'm a thief with weak morals!
posted by Brocktoon at 10:41 AM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


$5
posted by mikelieman at 10:44 AM on December 11, 2011


I was responding to the people saying "unknowns can't succeed with this". And yes, that's exactly true.
As of November Minecraft had over 4 million sales at €14.95. (well 800K of those were at €9.95)
I know it's an extreme case but just 5 years ago those figures would've been nigh on impossible.
posted by fullerine at 10:46 AM on December 11, 2011


One thing that bugs me about this new model is how well it works for established names (Trent Reznor, Radiohead, Louis CK, Cory Doctorow...) and how poorly it works for anyone who isn't already a celebrity recognized for their craft.

Also true of the old model.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:47 AM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's pretty much my point. They have to be out there, doing the low-rung-on-the-ladder gigs and earning their cred one audience at a time. If they do well, they sell stuff in the lobby. If they don't, then at least they got payed a bit for the gig, on to the next one.

Except that isn't how it really works any more. Bands are still selling a few CDs and T-shirts at their shows, although the CDs are probably more professional looking than "burned" would suggest. I also know not of this "lobby."

But that band is also busy putting themselves out there on social media. You can "like" them on Facebook, subscribe to their Twitter feed, listen to them on Soundcloud and Bandcamp, and watch their videos on Youtube.

They are still paying their dues, but it's a much more elaborate process. The pipe-dream of being "discovered' by some giant corporate record label has fallen to the wayside - the goal is now to be directly discovered by an appreciative audience. The "Hey, we're putting this album out ourselves - you can download a high-quality copy for $X.oo" fits into nicely, as does the implicit trust that people will understand that the band's labor has value.
posted by louche mustachio at 10:47 AM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's an interesting experiment to be sure, but the results are going to be of limited use for telling us if it's a realistic model or not.

As already pointed out, his success is determined by paid customers, no matter how many or few thieves take advantage. At least two things don't scale to all content creators, though. The previously mentioned name recognition he already has, of course. Good point.

But also the novelty factor. I think he's going to get a lot of sales from people who rush over there to buy just to "vote" for the model. These people are actually (intentionally, but probably don't see it that way) sabotaging the experiment by acting in a way they wouldn't really act if this model was normal. Unrealistic ally inflating his success, I guess.

Shrewd of him to capitalize on that, if intentional.
posted by ctmf at 10:47 AM on December 11, 2011


Louis didn't edit this because he was looking to save money and/or had a lot of time on his hands. He edited this for the same reason he does his show on FX: He wants to retain that creative control. He's been burned in the past. If he'd release in the traditional model left the Beacon Theatre that night and got a DVD in the mail a few months later. He might have been able to make some notes, but the suits would have veto power. From what I've read Louis traded a lot of money for that creative control. He easily could have made Dave Chappelle money (with the same outcome) but now he's living comfortably and still can do what he wants.

This distribution model isn't about making more money but about trying something different. In addition to the low price point, it also got around the traditional bottleneck of international distribution. Everyone got it at the same time. So in a way he probably gets less torrenting from this than his DVDs or HBO gigs because his fans in the rest of the world can get it legally at the same time as Joe Sixpack in Des Moines.

DRM only slows down but does not stops piracy. Adding it makes it more of a hassle to legit buyers than to bootleggers. While I was downloading the video I was happy to pay $5 for I popped over to the torrent sites to see if people were honoring his request. At that moment it wasn't up yet but I knew it would come out. But what where there were clips from his appearances on Conan (which is available online for free but may have territorial restrictions, requires the flash player and can't be used offline).

His twitter feed has been pushing this for a while now and I was nervous that this online release might flop. Server crash, slow downloads, and ruining the experience for his fans. Because if it flopped because of a technical problem, it still would scare others off from trying it in the future.

To me, P2P has always been like borrowing a book from a library combined with time shifting. I just don't buy a lot of movies and tv shows. Frankly if Louis CK released this on DVD on the regular methods, I'd wait for it to be on Netflix and not buy it on the first day. But I think $5 is like 99¢ was to online music. I'm waiting for Hollywood to wake up to allowing online rentals for 99¢ for movies. The $5 or $6 from cable PPV or iTunes/Amazon rentals is too much. It is funny because I'd spend $20 renting movies at 99¢ a piece (or a flat all you can eat model like Netflix) but I won't pay $5 to see a crappy movie I didn't want to see in the theater. So instead of making $20 from me, the industry gets zero. So Louis grossed $5 from me yesterday instead of the tiny fraction of what he got from the standup show that was on Comedy Central Friday night.

The movies I torrent I'd definitely watch on Netflix or rent for 99¢ but that option isn't there. I'm not going to buy it anyway, but I'd get around to seeing it on Netflix or eventually TV. Or maybe never.

For content (apps, music, books, movies, etc) I do use and keep I buy it. I know some people aren't that way and see it as free stuff. I know my use case may not be universal, but I also think it is true that 99%+ of the torrent downloads were never going to be purchased anyway.
posted by birdherder at 10:49 AM on December 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


If all producers of pirate-able content did it the way Louis CK is doing it here, piracy would never have become so much of a thing.

You are dreaming.
posted by escabeche at 10:51 AM on December 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


I just bought this. Thanks for the reminder. Meanwhile, other things are torrenting into my computer...
posted by univac at 10:56 AM on December 11, 2011


I probably wouldn't have torrented this if he hadn't specifically asked us not to!
posted by telstar at 10:59 AM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Meh, I probably won't spring for the $5 since I've not seen enough of his stuff to be a fan (yet?)

Interestingly though, now I will probably **not torrent it** b/c he's making me feel like a shit for even thinking about it.

The irony though is that if I **did* torrent it and it turned out that I **did** like him more (than I do now), only then I would then be more-likely to shell out real dollars to either buy the vid or go see him live...

Radiohead did it better IMHO
posted by DavidandConquer at 11:05 AM on December 11, 2011


The American Universal Intellectual Property Brief has also taken note of Louis' appeal and the comment thread on TPB.
posted by hippybear at 11:06 AM on December 11, 2011


If there's anyone who earned getting famous by working hard (releasing an hour of new standup a year), being patient (years of nightclub work, the failure of the Dana Carvey show, the financial failure of Pootie Tang) and taking risks (trading massive network sitcom money for the integrity of total artistic control over a show, made while simultaneously releasing that new hour every year), it's Louis freakin' CK. Given his talent, the man'd be worth $30 million instead of $5 million if he allowed himself to be associated with crap. He doesn't. That matters.
posted by Apropos of Something at 11:08 AM on December 11, 2011 [7 favorites]


*The American University Intellectual Property Brief
posted by hippybear at 11:10 AM on December 11, 2011


Well, except you are $5 richer, and you have his show. Sure, he has still has his show, but not the money he asked you to pay him for watching the show. Basically, he doesn't have your "eyes," which he can't get from anyone else. So you are still a thief.

Right, but if the choice is between "Person X pays $0, and doesn't watch the show," and "Person X pays $0 and does watch the show," then I really fail to see how the latter scenario harms the artist economically. (Putting aside further seeding of the file for latter downloaders who would pay something for it, etc. etc. etc.)

Mind you, this is a hypothetical edge case and not a description of the relationship that many, if any, people have with the product—the fact that they are investing the time to torrent it, if nothing else, shows that they have some preference for "Louis CK Video" over "no Louis CK Video," however small that preference might be. Maybe those people would pay a dollar for the show; maybe they'd pay the $5 if it were even more trivially easy to do so; in that case, there is clearly a theoretical economic loss to the artist due to torrenting. On the other hand, maybe the torrenters actually derive extra value from stealing it because they get a rush from piracy, so they suddenly have an interest in watching something they would otherwise affirmatively avoid. Who knows.

None of this approaches the moral question of: Is it okay to ignore the wishes of someone who creates a work of art and states very fair, unequivocal terms on which he would like to offer it to the world? The answer to that, I think, is clearly: No, it's not okay. There is a dignitary element to this issue that is not captured by the dollars and cents.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 11:15 AM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


He talks about how he flies first class and how everything in his life is a better version of what we have. He says he expects about another year of this before he's back with the rest of us.

Haven't seen it, but I assume he's not serious about the second sentence.

Hard to believe that in Dec. 2012 he's gonna be wondering if he should try to get another year out of a tired Saturn station wagon, look for a good 2010 Mazda 3 or spend the money for a leftover 2012 Escort.
posted by ambient2 at 11:17 AM on December 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


I have been looking for a way to send Louis C.K. money for a long time now. I knew he would be smart enough to eventually figure out how to make that happen for me. He's such an honest, thoughtful, down-to-earth kind of guy, and I greatly value his humor and personality. I don't think of this transaction as me paying for this stand up gig, although that is a nice bonus. I think of it as a way for me to be able to treat Louie to a cup of coffee. This method allows me to do that without also treating an entire television network or cable company to the same. If it is possible to keep things this way, I will do my part while I can.
posted by Demogorgon at 11:20 AM on December 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


> I assume he's not serious about the second sentence

Maybe it's just B.S. humility, and maybe "honesty" is just a good act, but I take it as a warning to himself to keep working hard because the fans could get sick of listening to a 44-year old fat fuck [not fuck-ist] whine any day now. He started throwing away old material because he was sick of performing it, but if he didn't do that, I wouldn't eat this shit up, watching his TV shows, his DVDs and now this with quivering greedy little hands.
posted by morganw at 11:24 AM on December 11, 2011


I'm going to go ahead and say describing copyright infringement as "theft" is like calling fetuses "babies." It needlessly sways the conversation toward moralizing.

It's fine if you believe it to be theft. The law doesn't, and other people don't share your specific moral view. I know it is unlikely that people are going to choose morally neutral language to discuss this, but know that when you refuse to do so, you are manipulating the discussion with language of disapprobation, rather than participating in the discussion.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:01 PM on December 11, 2011 [8 favorites]


I pay it forward by releasing all of my own stuff under Creative Commons. I have no qualms about being a free rider.
posted by Meatbomb at 12:02 PM on December 11, 2011


Morally neutral language, like the use of the internet in question here, is like a Tragedy of the Commons situation acted out over and over again. We could present our best arguments for and against, without resorting to emotion-tweaking language that would easily sway people, such that the intellectual sanctity of the debate was kept intact.

But we can't, just like we can't do a number of other things that might result in everyone getting a fair shake as opposed to a few grabbing most everything and bolting.
posted by Slackermagee at 12:20 PM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


We could present our best arguments for and against, without resorting to emotion-tweaking language that would easily sway people, such that the intellectual sanctity of the debate was kept intact.

Appeals to semantic distinction are emotional; in their own way, an attempt to shift the discussion by making some words acceptable to use, while others not, even when the descriptive use of terminology is fairly clear, here.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:38 PM on December 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


Previously deleted...
posted by arnicae at 12:41 PM on December 11, 2011


Also: When you discriminate against somebody for being racist, you are as bad as the racist.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:42 PM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Some of you guys are delusional. There. Is that sufficiently emotion-free, or not? Shall we discuss this at the general assembly? Mike check!
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:43 PM on December 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Thanks for this post - buying it now.
posted by odinsdream at 12:45 PM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Aaand purchased. What was that, two minutes? Fucking awesome - direct link to a non-DRM quality file. This is how things should work.
posted by odinsdream at 12:48 PM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also: When you discriminate against somebody for being racist, you are as bad as the racist.

I don't understand this post. What is this in response to and what do you mean by it? Forgive me if it's obvious but I've lost whatever thread this came from.
posted by neuromodulator at 12:55 PM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Are those that download this torrent and give five dollars to Louis C.K. (at least one person) behaving better than those that buy his content and downloading it from him?

I don't see an ethical problem with that. In some cases that's what you have to do in order to use your content on a non-approved device (i.e., purchase DRM content and play it on a non-DRM device).

Fortunately in this case, Louis is offering a quality standard file that can be played anywhere or transcoded as you see fit. There's no real reason to get the torrent, since it's in all likelihood the exact same file.
posted by odinsdream at 12:56 PM on December 11, 2011


His money isn't stupid, his dog is.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 1:30 PM on December 11, 2011


Torrenting now and donating $5 to poor handicapped children.
posted by klue at 1:48 PM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Torrenting now and donating $5 to poor handicapped children.

Do you care to share which charity you're using? It might be worth an end-of-year donation if you think it's really worthwhile enough to use as you're doing.

Or do you just walk down the street and give random kids in wheelchairs money?
posted by hippybear at 1:57 PM on December 11, 2011


Paying a content creator a totally reasonable amount of money and giving money to charity aren't mutually exclusive activities. Yeah, money can't go two places at once. But, if the charity's really that important to you and you actually have every $5 of your life budgeted, then you're also allowed the totally reasonable option of not watching this particular hour of stand up comedy.
posted by Apropos of Something at 1:58 PM on December 11, 2011 [8 favorites]


If Disney was doing this, people would be torrenting this shit with a smile on their faces.

I have two qualms. First, there is a difference between a company and an individual artist. The animators for Mulan make considerably less per DVD sale than $5. What we've been seeing over the past 30 years or so is the need for a big, expensive artist-supporting infrastructure gradually fading away. But of course, it will still take some time for isolated artists to be able to create Disney-style productions without Disney the way Louis can create a Showtime-style comedy show without Showtime.

Second, I'm just not sure that's true. Disney's whole strategy (at least for its animated films) is based around obscurity. Notice how every commercial for a Disney film has a line like, "Buy it now before it goes back in the vault!" Tracing the history from VHS to Blu-Ray, films seem to come out of the vault approximately once per format. Meanwhile, the concept of obscurity is making less and less sense in the modern world. So yeah, if I could buy a Disney movie for $5 and watch it at home and burn it to DVD for my nieces, you bet I would.
posted by roll truck roll at 2:06 PM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


millionaire invokes the ethics of shame to make more money. News at 11.
posted by Shit Parade at 2:19 PM on December 11, 2011


I downloaded it. I didn't like it very much, but I guess it's worth five dollars compared to some other things.

Realistically, regardless of right or wrong, all performers now need to count on making their money from the gate at live performances. If you depend on selling enough recordings to make a living, you have a bad plan.
posted by pracowity at 2:23 PM on December 11, 2011


Bought it.
posted by ColdChef at 2:51 PM on December 11, 2011


[Deleted a comment. Falameufilho, please make the effort to make a marginally less appalling comparison.]
posted by restless_nomad at 3:05 PM on December 11, 2011


Well, except you are $5 richer, and you have his show. Sure, he has still has his show, but not the money he asked you to pay him for watching the show. Basically, he doesn't have your "eyes," which he can't get from anyone else.
If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me.


--Thomas Jefferson

-------

Stepping aside from the bullshit copyright argument we're having for the 80 billionth time on metafilter is there anybody that wants to talk about the actual video? Did the bit about smoking pot from this tour end up on the live show? That had me laughing the most out of anything in the act. I also thought in general, the show made me feel uncomfortable and think about how completely fucked up life is and human beings are more than it made me laugh. I think that's a good thing? But it wasn't always funny.
posted by empath at 3:06 PM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


From the comments at PB:
5 bux is small to u , but its 550 ruppees where im from , not every country is rich like usa , 5 bux is alot of money to some countries
Got a point there. I prefer when it's a 'pay what you think it's worth/can afford' deal.
posted by unliteral at 3:08 PM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Did the bit about smoking pot from this tour end up on the live show?

He joked about being too old for pot, how it's not all that interesting to smoke pot with the 20-year-olds who offer it to him after shows, how pot is now much stronger than he had remembered, and how it was hard to drive home after smoking it (found himself confused at a drive-through). Something like that.
posted by pracowity at 3:29 PM on December 11, 2011


Are those that download this torrent and give five dollars to Louis C.K. (at least one person) behaving better than those that buy his content and downloading it from him?

This is precisely what I did. I like Louis, I support him (and other artists) doing this kind of thing to make an end run around the gatekeepers, and this way I get the content without it costing him an extra cent in distro costs and he gets the FIVE DOLLA as well.

He's going to make a shit-ton of money off this -- I hope he goes all the way with being transparent, here, and talks openly about the revenues he receives, and how much better or worse it does, financially, than going the traditional route. I suspect in terms of raw profit into his pocket, it'll turn out much better, but I admit I could be wrong.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:42 PM on December 11, 2011


I'll get down with Bunny here and draw a distinction between copyright infringement and theft (at least the kind of copyright infringement we're talking about here.) Let me draw a more direct analogy:

You go out to a Broadway show. It's well-attended, but not sold out, and so you sneak in through the back and find an empty seat. Now, the show would go on regardless of your presence. In fact, for the actors involved it is probably better to have more people there, as it leads to a greater energy for their performances and the possibility of word-of-mouth promotion for the show. So, is it morally right or defensible to be sneaking into Broadway shows without paying for the tickets? And if so, does the general obligation to pay only come because of the ushers guarding the theater doors? And what if the house is infinitely large? Does that change the morality?

I'd argue no to all three, because what the actors, technicians, ushers, etc are doing is their job. Their end of the promise is to entertain you, your end is to pay what they've asked if you wish to see the show. Your presence after sneaking in is on its own perhaps a net-zero loss or gain to the performers et al., but it some with the same logic (read: the moral issues here are starkly different) as anti-vac people cowering behind herd immunity.

But what makes the case here so interesting is that Louis CK has made the assumption - truly risked the assumption - that piracy advocates are playing in good faith. Now, I like to think of myself as a good-faith piracy advocate. Not having cable, I find the shows I watch on Hulu. If they aren't available there, then I'll stream them from less savory locations, but I try to meet the distributors halfway. If I like a show, I'd rather the ad-money go to the show's creators than to some shady-ass aggregator.

But here, CK has said, sure. I'll make it DRM-free, because DRM is a pain in the ass for the consumer. I'll make it super-inexpensive. I'll make it easily downloadable. I'll do everything you say you want from the new business model, and all I'm asking is that you hold up your end of the bargain.

So people making arguments that one should pirate it anyway have no moral leverage with me in this argument. He's gone above and beyond on his end, and if it works it will be a great example to others as to how to do things right in the future. He "ricked" things by not doing things the old way, during a time when he is at the top of his game which he knows won't likely last forever. (He is fortunate enough to be very close friends with Chris Rock, who also knew his time at the top was limited around the time when CK was really starting out. Rock saved almost all of his money from that time, because he's a wise, wise man. I imagine CK is saving as much as he can now as well, so yes, he is risking things.)

One thing that bugs me about this new model is how well it works for established names (Trent Reznor, Radiohead, Louis CK, Cory Doctorow...) and how poorly it works for anyone who isn't already a celebrity recognized for their craft.

This is very true, but as has been said it is true of the old model as well. The difference being that the RIAA are essentially glorified loan-sharks. All they do is protect their own barriers to entry and then use that leverage to make unconscionable contracts to front the money to artists to pay for record production. What I propose (and I've written a paper about this, though not a published one) is that Radiohead, Reznor, etc. use their new model to create Artist's Collectives, wherein, say, Radiohead, knowing their fanbase and their tastes, would shepherd new groups into the fold, sharing a percentage of profits both for payment and investment into future production costs, with the hope of building the new groups into something contributive to the whole.

This model still puts a lot of emphasis on who one knows, but at least the people one needs to know are not nearly as shady, and the profits are going to the artists instead of the rent-seekers.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:42 PM on December 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Dude is gonna notch the fuck out of this.

Also, I support the phrase 'to notch the fuck out of something' to mean have a great financial success through independent distribution and stuff.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:47 PM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is exactly how it should be done. The site was clear, the transaction was easy, the content is good. Definitely the best I've felt about spending $5 in a while, and I'm happy to directly support an artist I enjoy and respect.
posted by FeralHat at 3:54 PM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


nathancaswell writes "Perhaps this is referring to making it available for download rather than restrict it to streaming."

Streaming is essentially zero impediment to pirating. Impediment to customers yes; pirates no.
posted by Mitheral at 4:13 PM on December 11, 2011


So people making arguments that one should pirate it anyway have no moral leverage with me in this argument.

Some people pirate, some people don't. The point of distributing something this way isn't moral, it's practical. You don't do this to stop people from pirating, you do it to make it easy to not pirate.
posted by empath at 4:42 PM on December 11, 2011


empath, obviously some people are going to pirate it anyway. That wasn't my point. My point was that he gave piracy advocates everything they could ask for, with the slight exception that he made it simply very inexpensive instead of free. Yes people are going to pirate still. They simply have no moral leg to stand on with their justifications in this case.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:03 PM on December 11, 2011


Sure they do. Once something is made, it costs almost nothing to make as many copies as you want, and it harms absolutely no one if they copy it. You probably aren't going to agree, but it's still a moral argument, and it's one that people make every single time one of these threads come up.

They could charge a penny for it and personally deliver it gift wrapped to your house, and it wouldn't make a bit of difference to the argument that they have no right to force you to pay anything for it.
posted by empath at 5:08 PM on December 11, 2011


There's no way that's a moral argument.
posted by mediareport at 5:09 PM on December 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


One thing that bugs me about this new model is how well it works for established names (Trent Reznor, Radiohead, Louis CK, Cory Doctorow...) and how poorly it works for anyone who isn't already a celebrity recognized for their craft.

Even in a completely free distribution system, celebrity and fame have the advantage. There's no way that can't be true. You can't force people to listen to someone they've never heard of. In terms of the means of production actually being in the hands of the workers, it's closer now than it's ever been. You still need to establish and connect with an audience and that is probably harder without an experienced hype machine working for you. On the other hand, staying connected to those fans that you do acquire is easier than it's ever been.
posted by doctor_negative at 5:15 PM on December 11, 2011


My only problem with this model: how do people without internet access buy a copy? They don't, is the short answer, and that kind of sucks. (And, yes, only x% or whatever people don't have internet access, but in Real People units, that's a lot of people.)
posted by nostrich at 5:26 PM on December 11, 2011


nostrich: Perhaps Louis decided it wasn't worth the cost of the old model to catch the non-internet customers?
posted by odinsdream at 5:36 PM on December 11, 2011


nostrich: but where were those people going to see it under the old model? I'll grant that there are people with no internet access, but how many of them have HBO?
posted by Ragged Richard at 6:02 PM on December 11, 2011


I think this is just damn smart. Assuming a similar number of people that watch his show on FX pay for and download this he's just made himself a cool $5 million minus costs of production and bandwidth.

Better to have 1 million people buy your product at $5 than 200,000 people at $20, both monetarily and in terms of exposure.
posted by smithsmith at 6:02 PM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow, the beacon sure has a crappy-looking green room.
posted by jenkinsEar at 6:04 PM on December 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Most old theaters have crappy-looking green rooms. Sad, but true.
posted by hippybear at 6:16 PM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ragged Richard: DVD, CD, terrestrial TV re-runs (maybe, not sure if that happens here), rentals, borrowing a recorded/bought copy from friends, etc etc. And it's not just poor people without internet, it's also people that just see no value in it (a rapidly diminishing group, one hopes), are too geographically remote, have dial-up and don't know any better (good luck downloading it), are under 18 and have their access metered by parents, and so on -- these guys could all, in theory, have access to HBO or the various other old world distribution models. I agree that the economics probably make this crowd not worth worrying about, I just feel bad that they're going to miss out.
posted by nostrich at 7:13 PM on December 11, 2011


All of my exposure to Louis CK has been though hurf durf reddit comments and screenshots with text. It's been enough that I thought I'd despise the man, but I feel obliged to support this type of business model to show that it can succeed (remember when Steam started? Remember when Kickstarter began?) so I dished out $5 and grabbed the file last night. Watched it today and had plenty enough laugh out loud moments to know I got my money's worth, and I can watch it as many times as I want, copy it it over to my media server, stick it on my phone, show it to some friends who've never heard of him. This is fantastic.
posted by furtive at 7:26 PM on December 11, 2011


You know what shocked me? That the new Carlos Mencia special currently running on Comedy Central had depth to it beyond what I expected. Like, Carlin levels of depth.

I've watched more than a few Mencia standup specials over the years, and they usually play off racial stereotypes and such. But this one was different, and is outstanding enough that I'm going to mention it here in a Louis CK thread because it might stand up to L's audience's level of scrutiny.
posted by hippybear at 7:58 PM on December 11, 2011


torrenting, then giving him a few bucks is actually better for him since it cuts down on bandwidth costs
posted by cupcake1337 at 8:00 PM on December 11, 2011


That the new Carlos Mencia special currently running on Comedy Central had depth to it beyond what I expected. Like, Carlin levels of depth.

Maybe that's who he stole it from.
posted by louche mustachio at 8:23 PM on December 11, 2011 [6 favorites]


I want to vote with my wallet for this sort of thing. I also wanted to do that for the (Rolling) Stones Archive thing where they just released Brussels Affair in FLAC...but in going through the purchase process I found the FLAC was only available for non-US customers. The only US option was mp3 through the Android store. I could never have fewer qualms about filesharing than at the moment I've been spurned for a legitimate purchase.
posted by anazgnos at 8:23 PM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's an exciting time to be a moral philosopher; moral reasoning regarding digital copyright infringement presses metaethical issues that are most often backgrounded in our everyday. Too bad I couldn't hack it in that business.
posted by Kwine at 11:29 PM on December 11, 2011


I find myself in the exact same position. As a fan of the NBA and NFL, I can almost never see any of the teams I like watching. In any given week during the NFL season, maybe four or five games will be shown in a week, sometimes as late as the following Sunday. The NBA version of the League Pass is one game a day, pre-chosen for your viewing pleasure (usually the Heat or Lakers). For most television shows, if they come to Japan at all, it's usually years later (for example, How I Met Your Mother just started yesterday at season 1). With things like Hulu, I've just given up on shows like SNL, because I can't be bothered to wade through all of the dreck of each episode (or to torrent it), yet I can't watch the stuff that shines through because of region restrictions.

If I want to see the things I'd be able to see back home, I can either a) watch something else because what I want is unavailable, or b) wait so long for it to finally come out that, essentially, the moment is lost. If there were a way I could get any form of NBA on demand (so I could watch the Bulls or the Pistons when I actually had the time for it), I'd pay through the nose. Until that time, I'll have to find things another way. With Louis C.K.s show, I think I'll download it because a) everyone keeps telling me he's hilarious, and b) because he's making it region free, and I want to encourage the shit out of that.

And I'd like to take this moment to say, Gizmodo, what the fuck? Yes, I realize that I live in Japan, but why the hell have you made it so that I can't actually read the U.S. version? I click on the stupidly tiny U.S. flag and it opens another fucking tab that redirects to Gizmodo Japan. Lifehacker too. What could possibly be the point of region crippling a blog that depends on pageviews?
posted by Ghidorah at 12:10 AM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm really surprised nobody has mentioned that Louis' pal Maron has been using this model for a couple of years now. Maron wasn't exactly an unknown, but it's his self-produced content that's received the most attention, and has made him a household name. He gives away most of the podcasts for free, but there's also premium content. No idea how well he's set up financially from it all though.
posted by mneekadon at 10:14 AM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, Marc Maron's style lends itself to the podcast format extremely well. It's like he's been kinda floundering in the standup world for 20 years waiting for the right medium to come along.

Now, a high-profile one-hour special is definitely due. It would be cool to see him go this route, but I wonder if he will. It seems that a part of him longs for people to see on TV what he actually does onstage, for how often he talks about his embarrassment over the Comedy Central roasts and Short Attention Span Theatre.
posted by roll truck roll at 11:06 AM on December 12, 2011


I wonder what kind of overhead there is to putting something like this up on iTunes or Amazon video, which I would have preferred.
posted by smackfu at 12:29 PM on December 12, 2011


TuneCore will actually publish it to iTunes for under $20, depending on how the files are set up, but then iTunes takes roughly 30% or so of the revenue on your sales.
posted by jacquilynne at 1:50 PM on December 12, 2011


fullerine: "5 Dollars? Of course I'll pay I fricking love the guy.
Transformers 3? Not so much.
"

If it's not worth paying for, it's probably not worth watching.
posted by Deathalicious at 2:33 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


fullerine: "He is, in fact, doing his audience a favour by not going through the variety of much more onerous channels available.

There's nice of him.
I'll do him the favour of giving him a fiver for it then.

If he didn't do his favour, would I still need to do mine?
"

That's a bit silly. Let's say there is a store chain that has convenient locations all over town, so you go to one and buy bread (because you still have not figured out how to torrent food). If there's another store that only has one location, and it's 25 minutes away by car, does that mean you have the right to break in and steal what you want?

And really, you paying him $5 isn't a favor, it's a transaction. You're paying $5 for something that is definitely valued at $5. If you bought a 5lb bag of beans that cost $1/lb, would you seriously think you were doing the grocery a favor?
posted by Deathalicious at 2:50 PM on December 12, 2011


When I intentionally choose the more expensive option because of a factor that's not necessarily quality (location, convenience, being friends with the retailter), I might think of myself as doing the retailer a favor. So in that way, buying the product rather than downloading an identical product for free could be thought of as doing Louis a favor.

But I agree with you that that's a dangerous line of thinking. It implies that you deserve the video for free, so you're going above and beyond when you pay for it.
posted by roll truck roll at 2:56 PM on December 12, 2011


hippybear: "It's pretty bare-bones overall, but it looks nice. I doubt it could have cost more than $1000, but I could be wrong about that."

Man, I hope you're wrong about that, otherwise whoever made the website got shafted. A professional done, well designed website with even minimal paypal integration (and this one was a little more complicated and included some custom coding) takes both time and expertise to make, and that has value too.
posted by Deathalicious at 3:04 PM on December 12, 2011


If there's another store that only has one location, and it's 25 minutes away by car, does that mean you have the right to break in and steal what you want?

This is a stupid argument, it will always be a stupid argument.

How about this. If you were hungry, and you there was such a thing as a bakery that just generated bread out of thin air at almost no cost, and the guy who ran the bakery had a sign up that said "Free bread take it." Would it be wrong to take the bread?

What if there was a patent on the bread making machine and the guy who patented it wanted $10 every time you took a loaf of bread from the store, but the store owner was saying, no seriously, I don't mind, just take the bread, there's enough bread in the world to feed everyone 100 times over for nothing, fuck that greedy asshole with the bread patent.

Would it be wrong to take the bread then?

As long as we're doing stupid analogies.
posted by empath at 3:30 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Louis CK's sign doesn't say "Free bread take it."

Or is the breadmaker the guy who uploaded it to Bittorrent? Well, bless his heart.
posted by roll truck roll at 3:37 PM on December 12, 2011


My favorite bit so far: "You hate a weak parent when you're a parent."
posted by whuppy at 3:59 PM on December 12, 2011


It seems like he's outdoing his "one fresh hour every year or so" goal. He claims "fyi none of the jokes on LIVE AT THE BEACON were in LOUIE or on any other special. it's all new shit". Does that mean won't be in season 3, too? I don't remember Louie season 1 or 2 material in Hilarious. (but it's all becoming kind of a blur)

I'm curious about the process of working up new material on the road. Are the first shows really short?

>>He talks about how he flies first class and how everything in his life is a better version of what we have. He says he expects about another year of this before he's back with the rest of us.

> Haven't seen it, but I assume he's not serious about the second sentence.

Marc Maron interviewed Louis for episodes 111 and 112 of the WTF podcast between seasons 1 and 2 of Louie. Louis talks about how in the 80s, he'd do 10 $50 shows in a night & have pockets overflowing with cash (and he was in his early 20's so that seemed like a lot), then things changed & suddenly there was no work in NYC, so he's definitely seen a reversal of fortune before.
posted by morganw at 5:16 PM on December 12, 2011


I'm curious about the process of working up new material on the road. Are the first shows really short?

I think that the early stages involve dropping in somewhere like the Comedy Cellar and doing a ten minute set. On the road, when a comic is doing a full hour, I think the preferred method for working on new material is to rotate it in among the older stuff.
posted by Ragged Richard at 7:53 PM on December 12, 2011


Louis on NPR's 'Fresh Air.'
posted by box at 9:11 AM on December 13, 2011


el io: the torrent downloads aren't costing Louis any bandwidth costs; it's like paying for the snickers bar, but not actually taking it from the shelf

The problem with this comment is that it's equating physical items with digital media. The cost of physical items, which are all technically limited quantities, even if vast and/or renewable, compared to digital copies, which are limited only by bandwidth and storage media. There are constantly new ways to move and store digital data, but only one way to make a Snickers. Steal a Snickers, and there's one less candy bar on the shelf, no money paid to anyone. Torrent a file, and the original quantity is not lessened, but you didn't use any bandwidth that CK had to pay for.

Paying CK his $5 and torrenting it is more akin to paying the delivery guy for a bit of the gas to get the snickers you paid for into your hand. You further offset the cost of the transaction, when that price was already factored into the product price to you, the end user.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:51 AM on December 13, 2011


OK, I momentarily forgot the bit where you didn't take a Snickers. So a better parallel is torrenting the file and never watching it, which would just be silly.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:52 AM on December 13, 2011


Except when you torrent a file you aren't just downloading it, you are uploading it to other users.
posted by Justinian at 12:25 PM on December 13, 2011


I think the important thing here to note is that comparing the distribution of intellectual property with the distribution of physical goods is pointless. It doesn't work the same way, the ethical considerations aren't the same, the economic considerations aren't the same, and the legal considerations aren't the same.
posted by empath at 12:30 PM on December 13, 2011


But, but, but... analogies!
posted by smackfu at 12:30 PM on December 13, 2011


The ethical, economic, and legal considerations may not be the same but that doesn't mean they are non-existent. Something can be both bad and not exactly the same as something else which is bad.
posted by Justinian at 12:33 PM on December 13, 2011


Then make the argument using the facts in hand instead of making up some ridiculous analogy which doesn't apply.

If file sharing is wrong, make the case that it's wrong. Don't try to compare it to something absurdly inappropriate like stealing a car.
posted by empath at 12:37 PM on December 13, 2011


We see this again and again, empath. Your argument hinges on physical media's subtractability and digital media's non-subtractability. That's interesting, but not as relevant as you seem to think. Because when you buy a CD, you're not paying for a piece of plastic.
posted by roll truck roll at 12:46 PM on December 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Because when you buy a CD, you're not paying for a piece of plastic.

Yes, that is exactly my point. By making physical analogies, you're assuming that you are buying the plastic. You're applying rules of scarcity that are completely irrelevant to the question.
posted by empath at 1:05 PM on December 13, 2011


I find a weird disconnect in these arguments whenever they come up in that there's always this accusation on the part of the pro-downloading/sharing/copying group that the artists are greedy, when it invariably seems to me that the people insisting on their rights to enjoy the product of someone's labor regardless of that someone's opinion on it are the greedy ones.

The same disconnect is happening with the "who is claiming the plastic is significant" argument right now. To me, empath, you've got it precisely backwards: by claiming that they aren't comparable (shoplifting a CD to downloading a song), you're the one insisting that the plastic is significant. It seems to follow as clear as day to me if you assert that they aren't equal. He's not assuming that he's buying plastic, he's assuming that the work of the artist has value.

I don't know if you're serious with your bread analogy, since you yourself call it stupid, but you do recognize that calling the bread-machine-designer guy a greedy asshole and making it about hunger and your right to feed yourself is a seriously loaded and weird approach to discussing this, right?

The analogy kinda reveals its holes, to me, when you remove the weird hunger/need language from it. What if it's not something anyone needs, but just this cool thing this guy spent a bunch of time and effort building? And he was like, "Hey, I built this thing that I think is really cool and if you want to stick your head in and experience it, it's $5, and if you're not interested, that's cool too."

And then some guy sneaks in and photographs it from a bunch of angles and duplicates and sets up shop across the street and says, "I agree this thing is cool but I don't think his work in building and designing it has any value so we shouldn't pay for it and you can see mine for free."

Man, I think the latter guy is a dick. I want to live in a world where if someone makes a really dope breadmaker, they have the highest chance of being able to do that for a living. And you can argue that everyone should have a right to experience the breadmaker regardless of financial well-being, etc. and theoretically I feel that argument but a) in my experience, most people who make that argument stick their head in the breadmaker and then go blow the $5 on something frivolous (but they pretend that the money is being diverted to needs, so there's some level of dishonesty about motive going on) and b) while I recognize the value of that ideal I still think it should argue towards artist's discretion rather than some universal rule stamped down on everything regardless of the creator's wishes.

That's what it always comes down to, for me. It's about, "If I think something artistic is worth experiencing, I think the creator deserves some respect and that respect partly manifests for me as respecting their appraisal of the work's value and how they want it consumed." The thing about that is that I don't have to resolve issues about defining theft or supply and demand to feel like that's a complete answer.
posted by neuromodulator at 1:37 PM on December 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


If I think something artistic is worth experiencing, I think the creator deserves some respect and that respect partly manifests for me as respecting their appraisal of the work's value and how they want it consumed."

If I get enjoyment out of art, (or anything) I think that I should do what I can to make sure that the artist is able to continue making that art, purely out of self-interest, if not out of charity. And I pay for stuff more often than I don't, these days, just because I have the disposable income right now.

But the value of supporting artist isn't just the creation of the art, but in making that art accessible to as many people as possible. And those two needs have to be balanced. All things considered, I'd rather have everyone in the world have free access to everything which has ever been created (which is basically as the world is now, ignoring the legal situation), than that artists get paid for every copy of their work that gets made, which is an absurd demand that A) isn't possible to enforce without a draconian police state and B) nobody really believes should be the case anyway.

If you have the money, and you get a lot of enjoyment out of it, then, yes, you should give money to the artist however you can. Personally, I've bought Louis CK's last album, paid for this special, and bought the entire run of his TV show on itunes (I did torrent "Hilarious" before I did any of that, though). But I'd rather a person never, ever have to make a choice between experiencing whatever art they like and eating, or making a car payment or really pretty much anything. It's seems pointlessly cruel to not let tell someone they can't have art or knowledge or experience have some little bit of wisdom or beauty in their life, just because they don't have the money to pay for it when it costs us basically nothing as a society for them to have it for free, and may pay us benefits down the road when they use all that pirated entertainment they consumed as a basis for their own art in the future.
posted by empath at 2:28 PM on December 13, 2011


that artists get paid for every copy of their work that gets made, which is an absurd demand that A) isn't possible to enforce without a draconian police state and B) nobody really believes should be the case anyway.

Proof by contradiction: I really believe artists should be able to determine what they believe is the value at which they should be compensated for their art. If they ask something we believe is unreasonable then we're free not to consume it. So maybe you don't know anyone else, but I assure you I exist so there's at least one

It's seems pointlessly cruel to not let tell someone they can't have art or knowledge or experience have some little bit of wisdom or beauty in their life, just because they don't have the money to pay

It seems pointlessly cruel to tell someone they can't make their own determination what their art is worth. You seem to be asserting a position that if they are so foolish as to create it then they don't have that right anymore.

It also strikes me as a somewhat unsupportable position to insinuate that people will be deprived of art if they don't have the option to take it without paying what the artist asks. The world is filled with art and plenty of it is available freely in part or whole either legitimately free or ad supported.

The state of modern copyright is a mess and protection durations and enforcement methods have long passed the point of sanity. But your sensibility doesn't even seem to recognize the value of providing real protection to brand-new works like LCK's recording. It may be in his interest to get some amount of free exposure in order to boost aggregate demand but it's not our call to make. It's his.
posted by phearlez at 4:59 PM on December 13, 2011


But your sensibility doesn't even seem to recognize the value of providing real protection to brand-new works like LCK's recording. It may be in his interest to get some amount of free exposure in order to boost aggregate demand but it's not our call to make. It's his.

There's no value to society to prevent unlimited copying once the work is made. None. It only makes the world poorer.
posted by empath at 5:07 PM on December 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I bought this the moment I heard about it because it was insanely easy, downloaded quick, and I didn't have to jump through a dozen hoops to get the file. I will buy more things this way in the future, provided I can.
posted by tumid dahlia at 6:57 PM on December 13, 2011


There's no value to society to prevent unlimited copying once the work is made. None. It only makes the world poorer.

This is completely false. There is exactly the same value as in granting a patent; by granting exclusivity for a period of time we give the artist or inventor the ability to make money from their work. This encourages more artists and inventors, which in turns makes the world richer.

The problem with the current copyright system is not that there is no value to preventing unlimited copying, it is that we've so grossly inflated the period of time for which copyright is granted. But that's an entirely separate thing than declaring there to be no value at all.

As to making the case that copyright infringement is wrong without analogies, it seems obvious that one could do so using the labor theory of value. When you buy a CD you aren't paying for plastic, you're paying for the work that went into creating the music on the CD. Similarly, when you buy an MP3 you aren't paying for bytes, you're paying for the work that went into creating the music. By downloading the music instead of paying for it you are declaring that the artist is not entitled to the fruit of his labor nor the sweat of his brow.
posted by Justinian at 7:09 PM on December 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


By downloading the music instead of paying for it you are declaring that the artist is not entitled to the fruit of his labor nor the sweat of his brow.

Or there are a hundred other motivations. Maybe he's already a multi-millionaire, maybe you only make $5 a week and live in a third world country and can't afford it, maybe you already blew your music budget for the month going to live shows or buying merchandise, etc. Maybe you're a starving artist yourself and need to constantly listen to the latest stuff so you can follow the scene, etc, maybe you're a DJ and you need to listen to 1000 songs a month before you can decide what to play, etc..
posted by empath at 7:17 PM on December 13, 2011


This is beginning to read like conversations I've had with fundamentalists who keep repeating the same thing over and over using different words.
posted by hippybear at 7:21 PM on December 13, 2011


Update on the Louis CK site.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 8:02 PM on December 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


So, I was right about the paying audiences at the theater covering the production costs, and WAY low on the website costs.

Still, he broke even, and then some. Good. That was my point to begin with.
posted by hippybear at 8:13 PM on December 13, 2011


Or there are a hundred other motivations.

There are many motivations for almost any crime or bad thing you care to name. Motivations are more or less irrelevant. In effect you're declaring the artist isn't entitled to the fruits of his or her labor.
posted by Justinian at 8:32 PM on December 13, 2011


Update on the Louis CK site.

Right, so he made his money, he's happy with how it turned out, he's going to keep doing this, and if 10 billion people pirate it now, nothing changes. His fans paid him because they wanted to pay him, not because they had to, and probably just as many people torrented it -- and some of them enjoyed it and became fans and some of them didn't. Pretty much everybody wins.
posted by empath at 8:49 PM on December 13, 2011


Huzzah!

I will say, though, that I had to copy and paste the text into Notepad to read the damned message. For a $32,000† website, you'd think they'd know that dark red text on a black background just doesn't work, at least on a CRT. Or my CRT, anyway.

† if I ever do another website for pay again, I'm charging a LOT more.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:35 PM on December 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Still, he broke even, and then some. Good. That was my point to begin with.

Your point was that he broke even before he even sold any videos (and even had money in his pocket), which his $32,000 website shows is not the case. He offset the cost of the venue and production, but not the website, which is also a sunk, pre-selling cost. I don't think anyone was arguing he wasn't going to break even, I at least was arguing that there was at least a risk of not doing so.

I wonder if sales go as strongly the next time, when there isn't a huge ethical debate surrounding it. My guess is a number of people bought this special out of solidarity to the model, but might torrent future ones, but I guess we'll just see.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 3:49 AM on December 14, 2011


I wonder how much of / if the 32 grand for the website includes bandwidth. When I downloaded the show, they filled the pipe. Multiply that by 100,000 and that's a lot of bits....
posted by mikelieman at 4:51 AM on December 14, 2011


does this mean we can torrent his show now?
posted by askmehow at 5:26 AM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yes.
posted by Meatbomb at 6:28 AM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


When I downloaded the show, they filled the pipe.

I got like 750 kbps down, which I NEVER get. I guess it was hosted in NYC or something.
posted by nathancaswell at 8:12 AM on December 14, 2011


I love this guy. From his Reddit AMA:
ryeandginger
I worked as a PA at a show of yours in Toronto. You were doing two shows that night and during the break a girl came to the stage door and when you came out she said (in front of half a dozen other fans, and myself who was holding the door for you) that she lived nearby and wanted to have sex with you before the next show started. You laughed and said thank you, and when you came back inside you told me this never happens.
That was a few years ago. Does it happen a lot now?

iamlouisck
haha. i remember that. are you female? Because the funny thing is I remember there was a young working woman standing there with a walkie on her hip as this kind of desperate (not uncute) young girls is openly offering to fuck me. I remember the juxtoposition. When you're a dad, you see every grown female, especially young ones, as possible models for your daughter's future. I remember thinking that I would never let this working woman down by fucking this chick between shows. Plus I don't do that.
anyway maybe it wasn't you. are you sure you're not the woman who offered to blow me?
How has it changed?
I don't really hang around after shows. I bolt.
I think the idea of fucking someone who just watched you perform is... it's just not me. I mean, keep trying ladies. You never know! Maybe next time there won't be a well adjusted and bright young woman acting as my concious and ruining what may have been a terrificly depressing blowjob!
posted by Penks at 9:28 AM on December 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


So, I was right about the paying audiences at the theater covering the production costs

You can be right factually but still wrong about the implications, which I still think you are. The fact that he found a way to alternately finance this doesn't change the fact that there may have been additional hassles or expenditures with doing things that way (perhaps he sacrificed 20 otherwise paying seats for camera placements or had to invest 20h of personal time in coordinating things he wouldn't have done if he'd just done the show, or he could have booked a theater with 20% more sellable seats but which wouldn't have worked out well for taping, etc etc) and the fact that using that money for this experiment meant sacrificing the opportunity cost of simply taking that money.

Empath, I honestly am borderline offended by how unbalanced your regard is for the desire of people to consume something compared to the right of the person doing the labor to decide how it is used/sold/consumed. There are a billion pieces of art out in the world that someone could choose to view/use/remix rather than agree to the terms I set on the consumption of mine. I, on the other hand, am only me and can only produce what I have the time, will, and creativity to make. But despite that my rights are so trivial in comparison to the consumer?

I didn't think there could be a position as wrong-headed and simplistic as the whole Going Galt nonsense but that is a near perfect mirror image of it.
posted by phearlez at 9:31 AM on December 14, 2011


It seems pointlessly cruel to tell someone they can't make their own determination what their art is worth.

an artist can make their own determination of what their art is worth, but that doesn't have to be the price of their art.

it's markets that set the price. now we are seeing a transition in how markets set prices of digital art. the old model is that it is recorded on some digital medium, and then the seller sets a price. then, depending on how many units are sold, the seller adjusts the price. this is why you see $3 dvds at wall-mart.

the new model is that the consumer sets the price. if they like something enough they can reward the artist, thus creating an incentive for the artist to create more art.

i think a real turning point will happen when a show like south park switches to this new model. "you liked the last season? great! give us some money, and if we get enough we'll make another".
posted by cupcake1337 at 3:58 PM on December 14, 2011


I wonder how much of / if the 32 grand for the website includes bandwidth

They're hosting the files with a cloud provider, sensibly. Since that sort of thing is priced based on usage, generally, I would assume that the 32K for the site does not include bandwidth charges for downloads, as there'd be no way to predict that with any accuracy upfront.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:45 PM on December 14, 2011


Using the figures from Rackspace CDN, 110,000 transfers of the 1.4 GB file would cost $27,720.

It's more likely that the cost is lower since not everyone would have downloaded the high quality version. That website cost of 32k could very well be counting the bandwidth cost, then.
posted by odinsdream at 7:07 PM on December 14, 2011


the .torrent file is 45.3kb. if i did my math right, if he hosted the torrent instead of the video, and everyone downloaded the torrent, it would cost $0.90 to host. here's my math:

> 27720*45.3/(1.4*10^6)
[1] 0.89694

it's unrealistic since some would choose to download the file instead of torrent, and there would be some seeding.
posted by cupcake1337 at 8:21 PM on December 14, 2011


Hosting the torrent file, as you've noted, isn't even remotely the same as hosting the datafile. Someone still needs to seed it, and if you're trying to actually supply content via torrent you need to be seeding it from a datacenter. That hits your bandwidth just as much, perhaps even more, than regular purchases, since you're supporting everyone who wants it for free as well.
posted by odinsdream at 9:23 AM on December 15, 2011


the new model is that the consumer sets the price.

And the new new model might be that the artist sets their price before they distribute it. That is, they won't even produce it until they get $x,000 in pledges to buy it.
posted by empath at 9:33 AM on December 15, 2011


From Louie CK's statement:

If anybody stole it, it wasn't many of you. Pretty much everybody bought it.


There's two ways he might have meant this.

1. A weird, ignorant disconnect. As if it's not possible to both make lots of money and also have lots of people pirate and watch his movie without paying for it. Or,

2. He's internalized the concept that the only group of people that matters, the "you" he's addressing, are the fans who are willing to pay for his stuff. He's saying most of the people who might have paid for it, did pay for it. The other people--and there might be 10 of them or 10 million of them--don't matter. They didn't pay for the video, and whether that's because they ignored it or because they pirated it, they don't enter into the equation at all. They gave him nothing and they cost him nothing.

If some of the pirates enjoy the video and are converted to becoming one of the fans that matter, awesome. But adding DRM to his video or scolding them and calling them thieves is probably the things that make that happen.
posted by straight at 11:29 AM on December 15, 2011


"probably not the things that will make that happen" -- sorry.
posted by straight at 11:29 AM on December 15, 2011


the new model is that the consumer sets the price. if they like something enough they can reward the artist, thus creating an incentive for the artist to create more art.

There is nothing NEW about the idea that people will not pay more for an item than they believe it is worth. What is new is the ease and speed at which someone who is unwilling to honor/accept the producer's role in the market can defy those wishes and refuse to let them set their own price and take something rather than choose to live without it.

I firmly believe we all need to accept the realities of the world as it is and companies that try to defy that - like the music and movie industry has - will suffer. But suggesting that this it is in any way moral to declare that the worker isn't entitled to set their own price for their work (and potentially then be unable to get it) and that there's some justice in simply taking it against their will is repugnant.
posted by phearlez at 11:46 AM on December 15, 2011


I just got a nice email from the man himself:
Hi. This is LOuie. It seriously is me. Im even going to leave
the O stuipdly capatalized because who would pay an intern to do
that?? Okay so you bought the thing with my fat face on it and
you clicked the button that said i could email you. And i know
that now you are thinking "aw shit. Why'd i let this guy into my
life this way?". Well dont worry. Because i really swear it that
i wont bug you. I will not abuse this privalage of having your
email. You wont hear from me again... Probably, unless i have
something new to offer you. The reason i'm writing now, in the
back of a car taking me to the Tonight Show set, is to let you
know that as of now there is some new and cool stuff on my site,
related to Live at the Beacon Theater. Theres a thing where you
can download and print a dvd box cover and label so you can burn
and make your own dvd of the video. And theres a new option where
you can gift the special to as many people as you want (for 5
bucks each) and they'll get a nice gifty email from you with a
link to the video.

Also, some of you may know, i recently made a statement (that
sounds so dumb. Like i'm the president or something) about how the
video has been doing online. Im pasting it in here below in case
you missed it.

Lastly I'm planning to put some more outtakes of the show on
youtube and i think i will put one on the site that is only
available for free to you folks on this list, who bought the
thing and opted in. But dont hold me to that because really i
just thought of it and typed it.

Okay well please have a happy rest of the year and more happy
years after that. And please even have been happy in your past.
What?

Thanks again for giving me 5 dollars. I bought 3 cokes with it.

Regards. Sincerely, Actually,

Louis
posted by empath at 11:55 AM on December 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


odinsdream is right, and it's pretty hard to estimate the change in hosting costs when a torrent is offered versus not. offering the torrent would certainly lower the costs, by how much is the question.

offering a torrent is similar to "some assembly required" because some of the cost is born by the consumer. with ikea it's time and frustration building your desk/bookshelf and with a torrent it's bandwidth.
posted by cupcake1337 at 1:54 PM on December 15, 2011


I received that email also. I found it completely charming.
posted by Kwine at 2:52 PM on December 15, 2011


I can't believe I'm going to chime in here on the already-stale-before-it-began piracy debate, but most thread-readers are probably long gone by now so here goes:

I think there's a middle ground to be found here, though it's a pipe dream and likely not enforceable (not that the current system is actually enforceable). The reason for copyright, like patents, is to inspire creative works. Granting a limited monopoly allows the artist/inventor to profit from their work and thus (when things work out) subsist on their work.

Right now that monopoly right is limited purely by time. After a certain amount of time the patent or copyright expires and the invention or creative work enters the public domain. Now anyone can make that machine and anyone can watch that standup video.

Here's the pipe-dream bit: why not limit the monopoly right by the amount of realized profit (or time, whichever comes first)? Surely there's a limit to how much money one needs to reap to properly incentivize them to make more things. (And the flip-side: if we allow an artist or inventor to make above a certain amount from a single work, won't they prematurely reach the amount of wealth necessary to live comfortably for the rest of their lives? Isn't that why we don't have any more Rick Moranis movies?)

So vote for more Rick Moranis movies. Vote "Yes" on Prop 23.
posted by nobody at 6:07 PM on December 15, 2011


Isn't that why we don't have any more Rick Moranis movies?

Rick Moranis quit making movies because 1) he didn't feel comfortable being an actor doing things other people were telling him to do rather than creating his own material, and 2) he lost his wife to cancer and took a break in order to raise their children, which turned into a longer and longer break.

Or at least that's what Wikipedia tells me, with footnotes pointing to the sources for those statements.
posted by hippybear at 6:26 PM on December 15, 2011


The Inner Room : Filmmaker: BitTorrent Pirates Help Us Get More Exposure
Ink : Indie Movie Explodes on BitTorrent, Makers Bless Piracy (Ink rocked, btw.)
posted by jeffburdges at 6:30 AM on December 17, 2011


update from Louis CK's twitter: "I'm giving away a bunch of the $ I made on the special. Please recomend a charity not in USA (gave to USA) that takes paypal."
posted by neuromodulator at 9:54 AM on December 21, 2011


neuromodulator: "update from Louis CK's twitter: "I'm giving away a bunch of the $ I made on the special. Please recomend a charity not in USA (gave to USA) that takes paypal.""

More than a bunch. He's only taking just under a quarter for himself.
"That leaves me with 220k for myself. Some of that will pay my rent and will care for my childen. 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."
Another quarter is going to cover the costs of the project. Another quarter is going to be split between his cast and crew, and the remaining 28% will go to charity.
posted by schmod at 12:07 PM on December 22, 2011


It's good to be the king / control your own distribution channel.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:27 PM on December 22, 2011


I like Louis more every damn week, lately. Good on him.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:51 PM on December 22, 2011


The "Louie" Bubble: Making Louis C.K. Human-Sized Again
posted by homunculus at 8:16 PM on December 22, 2011


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