Following up on Edward’s excellent internet blackout solidarity post — and I’m not only referring to the judicious use of Telly Savalas sprechcroon, although he surely improves everything he touches by a factor of 5 — some of you may have heard of musician Jonathan Coulton’s pithy tweet on the demise of file-sharing Mos Eisley, MegaUpload:
“Any other musicians out there notice that ever since they shut down MegaUpload, the money has just been POURING in?”
Zing! Ring-a-ding-ding. I like this guy already.
Well, after this caused a fair amount of what we may assume was negative or confused feedback, Coulton expanded his views on internet piracy legislation in a thoughtful, nuanced, and well-informed blog that is really worth reading.
I particularly cleave to the argument that every file shiftily acquired via MegaUpload or YouTube or Kazaa or whatever the kids do nowdays does not equal a lost sale. This is absolutely true. If you make a good product and you make it available to the public, they will pay for it. I know. I’m one of them. Just last week I bought this, while I could easily just listen to it on Spotify. Last night, I watched an old episode of MST3K on the YouTubes, but only because the VHS tape (remember when THEY were the Satan in this argument?) I originally recorded the episode on is obsolete and they have not made the episode in question commercially available in any other format, be it streaming or DVD. Trust me, if it were commercially available, I would pay for it. (Dear Shout Factory: the movie in question is Mole People. Do not tell me anyone is barring the rights to that thing.)
And this is a show that I originally only paid for through a cable subscription. Those box sets range between $30 and $50 each, the single titles anywhere from $15 to $20. And that’s not counting the money I’ve spent on the same guys’ different post-MST3K projects: The Film Crew, Rifftrax, Legend Films commentary tracks, Cinematic Titanic. When my husband and I saw Cinematic Titanic live, those tickets were, like, $70 each.
Don’t ask me how much I paid for the Gizmo and that Poe ragdoll.
So, traditional distribution channels have failed the Bidness. Well, all ineffective things come to an end. The one thing I really am convinced of in this argument is that the consumers will never fail the content creators, if we’re given the least opportunity to do the right thing.
I bet someone’s downloaded that “Who Loves You, Baby?” on iTunes thanks to YouTube’s archiving of Telly Savalas, long after big companies with an alleged interest in keeping his content under their banner have forgotten all about him. And you know, I have a mad posh to go iTunes this Jonathan Coulton guy’s new album, produced by John Flansburgh (eeeeeee!)…although I might go check it out on Spotify first.