This just in: Internet not solely populated by pirates and thieves

Comedian Louis CK bets on fans' better instincts -- and they happily pay for his online offering. Ball's in your court, RIAA

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I had to stop and let that sink in for a bit. A vendor who takes my money and doesn't feel like he now "owns" me and my data from this day unto the grave? I really like the sound of that. And it makes me much more inclined to purchase from this vendor again.

A big reason why this experiment has been successful comes down to Louis CK's down-to-earth persona. He's not a Kardashian. He comes across as an honest, blue collar guy who's at least as screwed up as any of the rest of us but manages to be very funny about it.

I think a lot of file sharing isn't driven merely by extreme stinginess or even the desire to feel like you're getting away with something naughty. It's because the people who run the companies that control most of the content we consume are enormous flaming a**holes. It's payback for decades of being ripped off.

Louis CK? Not an enormous flaming a**hole. Or if he is, he manages to hide it well. So if you decide to rip him off just to avoid paying $5 -- or enable thousands of others to do it -- what does that say about you? You're a pathetic loser. That's what it says.

Of course, I was able to find illegal copies of the same show. A quick search of PirateBay turned up at least six torrent sites where it had been posted. One of the file swappers even wrote an apologia, of sorts. I repeat it here in all its inarticulate and ungrammatical glory:

yea its the new one yea i kinda feel bad putting it here but people like louis ck gotta realize without torrents and the net he wouldnt be anywhere bc honestly louis i know ur here and i know u mite be mad at me but u gotta realize not everyone has paypal , not everyone has credit cards, some people use net lounges, some have barely money for food, art = comedy should be shared with the mass , and Believe me u can judge the popularity more from the torrent downloads then the paypal sales, also if people like it , its easier to buy on there ipad/ipod or personal/work computers... more buzz = more fales [SIC ad infinitum]

Four words: Dude, get a job. That is, if anyone will hire you.

What's new isn't the concept of artists distributing some of their content for little or nothing online as an enticement to buy more stuff. That's been done for years. What's new is that the seller of the content is also one of the good guys. And the people who rip off his content for free? They're the enormous flaming a**holes. That's a sea change that could ripple across the Net for years.

Would you pay $5 for unrestricted downloads like Louis CK's? Post your thoughts below or email me here: cringe@infoworld.com.

This article, "This just in: Internet not solely populated by pirates and thieves," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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