Media

Comedian Louis CK offers $5 DRM-free special, gives the finger to traditional distribution

NOTE: GrowthBeat -- VentureBeat's provocative new marketing-tech event -- is a week away! We've gathered the best and brightest to explore the data, apps, and science of successful marketing. Get the full scoop here, and grab your tickets while they last.

Louis CK is known for pushing boundaries in his comedy, but with his recent online special, “Live at the Beacon Theater,” the wildly popular comedian is also embarking on new territory for entertainment distribution.

Typically we’d have to wait for a new DVD, CD release, or cable network special to get new material from a popular comedian. But with Live at the Beacon Theater, CK is offering it on his website for just $5 with no digital rights management (DRM) restrictions.

Purchasing the special allows you to stream it twice in your browser, or download it twice as an unprotected MPEG 4 video file. Once downloaded, you can view the special as much as you want, put it on your smartphone, or even burn it to a DVD.

CK paid for the production and online distribution of the special himself, and he says that if this release goes well he may offer more content in the future. While it probably cost CK quite a bit to put this project together, he’ll likely recoup his expenses quickly since he doesn’t have to share the profits with anyone.

CK also preemptively asked his fans not to download the special illegally: “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.”