Geeze, we love ourselves a good old fashioned Internet Piracy debate in this country, don’t we? We’ve got executives at Foxtel telling us that every time we download an episode of Game of Thrones that it’s the equivalent of stealing a Ferrari. We’ve got the Federal Government thinking about imposing methods to curb internet piracy that are already old and obsolete. We’ve got all sorts of panic and lobbying from a media industry that refuses to change and insists on punishing the individual because of the industry’s inability to evolve; forever attacking the “how” of it all, and never the “why.” But when you actually go to the people directly hurt the most – and let’s be clear here, it’s never the financial or marketing executives of distribution companies, it’s the content creators themselves – they tend to act either flattered that people are that desperate to watch what they make, or simply miffed that the option for people to pay for what they love doesn’t exist. Much revered comic and lead creative behind the phenomenally genius, groundbreaking show Louie, Louis CK, is as miffed as anyone else.
When he appeared on the Opie & Anthony Show a while back, Louis recounted a story of how, when visiting Australia, people would talk to him about how much they enjoyed the show, despite it not being on the air here at the time. Louis, famously, releases his comedy specials on his own website for $5 that are available to anyone, anywhere in the world, totally DRM-free.
In fact, on his website he discourages people from pirating it by stating, “As always I’d like to urge you not to steal or share this video so that I can continue to offer stuff on my site in this friendly and cheap way without losing my ass in the process. I don’t want to lose my ass. I have a great, great ass.”
So when he asked his network, FX, if he could something similar with his show so people in other countries could watch it without having to “steal” it, he was met with obvious blanket rejection.
People have the money. They would very much like to be giving you, the media industry, the money for the things that they enjoy and like and love. But it’s this monumentally draconian attitude and culture of stubbornness that’s holding everything back. And, worse yet, it’s being spun as value-for-money. People would gladly pay for Game of Thrones, for example, but Foxtel won’t let you do that without signing up for everything else too. Which is spun by them as “But you’re getting all this other great stuff at the same time!” If this happened in the regular retail world with other consumer products, you’d be going in to a K-Mart to buy a shirt, getting to the check out and having the cashier say “I can’t let you buy that without also buying a Barbie doll, a fishing rod, two mountain bikes, a sledgehammer, these bed sheets and a set of steak knives as well. But for the total combined price, you’re getting a bargain!” When all I want, all consumers want, is just a fucking shirt. I love that shirt. I’m committed to that shirt. I will gladly pay money for that shirt. But the option to get just that one shirt, in this pricing model, doesn’t exist, and it’s ludicrous.
No other media industry operates in the kind of package-deal way that television does. You don’t have to purchase the entire Sub Pop Records back catalogue at once in order to get your hands on the newest Mogwai LP. You don’t need to buy tickets to Tom Cruise‘s past 10 films in order to see Edge of Tomorrow.
Or, as Louis himself perhaps put it better:
“Everybody in the world is like ‘take my fucking credit card’ and just let me have the thing, and I’ll pay. But if you’re going to be a pain in the ass, fuck you! I can steal all of it!” “So the whole country rips TV.“
Amen, Louis. A-fucking-men.
Photo: Jemal Countess via Getty Images.