Comedian Louis C.K. did an amazing thing today: He released his newest stand-up comedy special, Live at the Beacon Theater, exclusively through his website, for the fair price of $5. There’s no limit to the number of times you can watch it. It’s DRM-free, so you can even burn it to a DVD, if you like. Most importantly, there’s no middle man — Louis C.K. paid for the entire thing himself, and all the proceeds go straight to him.
The only problem with this plan is that, because the video is made to be as easy to watch as possible, it’s also extremely easy to upload to a torrent site, and give it away for free. In fact, a quick Google search shows it’s already on The Pirate Bay and a number of other torrent sites. But you should not download Live at the Beacon Theater via torrent.
First and foremost, doing so is, quite literally, stealing directly from the man himself. Second, by supporting this kind of direct distribution model, helping to make it a viable option for artists and entertainers, we can play a part in changing the current ecosystem that makes artists and entertainers beholden to corporations, and results in higher prices or bombardments of advertising. In short: Supporting Louis C.K.’s experiment could change how — and for how much — we get our entertainment.
If you don’t want to listen to me, here’s what Louis C.K. has to say on the matter:
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.
Of course, there will be those who don’t care, who think that Louis C.K.’s success makes it OK to download the hour-long special for free, anyway. But to those people, I say: You are doing something wrong. There is no moral excuse in this world that makes torrenting this video right. This time, there are no corporate fat cats to stick it to, nor any applicable principles to fight for. Torrent this one, and you’re just a jerk.
Get Louis C.K.’s Live at the Beacon Theater for $5.