When it launches tomorrow, the Radiohead price experiment is going to be very interesting to analyze.
(Background: Users pay what they like for the new Radiohead album, from £Free – £100. See the BBC News article)
Having pushed for so long for digital distribution methods that afford us our full rights under copyright (ie no DRM), it’s kinda time that we step up to the plate and prove that today’s digital media consumers are not looking to freeload(… or are we?)
I was just chatting about this issue with a heavy BitTorrent user I know well, who’ll remain anonymous. For her, she finds BitTorrent the most convenient way to select and consume media – she watches a lot of foreign TV and also occasionally enjoys watching video on her PSP (which doesn’t support any DRM-for-video technology even if the content she wants to watch is available in a DRM’d format). Downloading torrent files from sites across the world and transcoding them into a PSP-friendly format has become a simple and painless process which she finds quicker and more convenient for her needs than any DRM system out there right now.
She is frustrated that she has to use what are currently deemed ‘illegal methods’ to obtain the media and can’t do anything to legitimize the content she is viewing.
Donate your money to the Disney, Fox, TimeWarner, et al
Then I had an idea. Wouldn’t it be interesting if there a mechanism whereby people downloading TV and video from sites like ThePirateBay or MiniNova could voluntarily contribute 50c per show they download, with the money going to the media company behind the content?
This would not be propositioned as paying for the video (it’s not the BitTorrent site’s content to sell) but instead would be offered as a voluntary contribution to represent the audience’s willingness to pay for content if offered on the kind of terms they want (easy downloads, p2p, no DRM, etc).
It could be as simple as a simple PayPal-powered system, cutting monthly checks to the top 50 or so TV and media companies around he world. As a symbolic gesture you’d want to get it to the DRM influencer’s in the company rather than the rights holders themselves (I’m sure the EFF has such a list).
If it caught on, it could help push the momentum to just give us the space in which we can play fair – just like Radiohead are hoping will happen with their new album “In Rainbows”.