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As one of Filmmaker‘s “Best of 2011” posts, Dan Schoenbrun hailed Louie as one of the year’s best TV shows. And now, as the year closes, the comedian has launched one of the year’s best DIY distribution and marketing efforts. As John Biggs wrote at Techcrunch, Louis CK is offering his Live at the Beacon Theater concert film for $5 as a DRM-free download or stream. And while the Hollywood studios are currently fighting piracy by borrowing a page from the firewalls of authoritarian regimes (see the SOPA legislation currently before Congress), C.K. is taking a more human approach. He writes:

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.

Following the release, Louis C.K. got on Reddit to talk with his fans, answer questions, and detail more of his thinking about his $5 buck download distro. In one exchange, C.K. explains that he wrote the above quote after worrying that his show would be torrented on sites like Pirate Bay. Interestingly, he notes that the concert’s low price and human-to-fan distribution has inspired a debate among the pirate community:

The day before I posted the video I went on pirate bay, which i had never visited and i read the guy’s thign where he posts letters from media co’s and artists and then his nasty and kind of hilariously chest beating responses. I thought “jesus. This guy is a piece of work. I would NEVER tangle assholes with this guy.” and then I thought about it. What do I say to these people? To hope they don’t make me regret putting it out there naked like this? So I wrote that little “to torrent” letter, just being a guy saying “dude. please?” it’s the best I can do. If it doesn’t work, well.

so anyway, seeing the people who have fought about it on pirate bay and that there is a crisis of concious and everythign that’s been written and to see that i’ve gotten paid. Just so interesting and hope-giving and cool .

And here’s a reply from a poster named gimpbully:

This is exactly what a sizable portion of us have been begging for for close to a decade now. Seriously, this is the type of move that makes pirates back into paying customers. Thank you so much.

The video format is perfect, the encoding is clean, it’s dirt cheap and was hosted on a fast server (and damn fine content to boot). That’s all we ask for. I promise you half of us labeled pirates just want a specific or usable format that works with our home entertainment setup. We’ll gladly fork over gobs and gobs of money if you just continue to provide content in this style. It’s simply not a price thing for many of us.
And the people that do consider it a price thing will steal your content regardless of how you release it.

And on C.K.’s YouTube page is this first comment from hismah666:

I have been “pirating” movies, TV shows and music for a long time now. Sometimes I buy things I really want, but for the most part free is the best price. I downloaded this special from a torrent site (I saw it come up and I hadn’t seen it). I then read his disclaimer on his site about why he is uploading it DRM free – for us. I bought it then and there. His TV show is not on air in my country, and I missed his other comedy specials – but this one I can purchase. Thank? you for all the laughs.

You can buy Louis C.K. Live at the Beacon Theater here.

(Hat tip for the Reddit link: Stephen Elliott’s Rumpus newsletter.)

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