Astrid Bovell on January 5th, 2012
In my brief time working in the Copyright Office, I’ve come across cases of rights holders both individual and corporation, that protected their work fiercely through complex legal dealings and hefty fees, and I’ve come across a rights holder who was contactable directly and gave permission to use their work for free. It highlighted two different approaches to a common goal: protecting the rights of the creator of a work.
It made me think of the different methods used in the various entertainment industries for the same ends, specifically, methods like DRM (Digital Rights Management). Increasingly the entertainment industry is formulating ways to keep their works protected from piracy. This has been done a number of ways, through proprietary formats that can only be accessed on closed systems, to internet connectivity that is required for authentication. Sadly, most methods of DRM affect pirates and legitimate purchasers the same way, by making it difficult to access or more expensive to cover the increased costs of enacting it.
The other approach, and the example I’d like to give, is of a very hands off and simple method of distribution and consumption: that of low price, DRM-free content.
The stand-up comedian Louis CK has seen great success in recent years, a critically acclaimed TV show on the HBO Network and very popular stand-up specials, recently he has undertaken an experiment, one that is by no means unique or new, but is his first foray into the world of direct-to-market digital distribution.
Mr CK has recorded, edited and produced his latest stand-up hour entirely under his own budget. He decided to make the stand-up special available exclusively through his website for $5, and of particular note, the video file that is downloadable is completely DRM free.
He makes a statement on the site explaining his motivation, and giving a look into the success of the venture after four short days. A very interesting read from a man who doesn’t know the deep ins and outs of DRM and ‘Torrenting’, but has views on how he’d like his work experienced and (hopefully) enjoyed:
I thought it was a very interesting look at how people are taking different approaches towards protecting their work, and protecting the revenue generated by those works.
– William Newton
(Sadly Bill has gone to pursue his studies abroad. We wish you well Bill and thanks for all your help!)