Comedian Louis C.K. garnered a lot of press — and made a ton of money — last month when he disintermediated the major television networks and released his latest special as a $5 download on his web site.

Less well known is that the funny man (if you haven’t seen this bit, you need to) used emotionally intelligent signage to discourage fans from ripping off his intellectual property and distributing it for free.

It seems to have worked.

(HT: The great Kevin Kelly, who pointed this out to me.)

10 Responses to “Emotionally intelligent signage and Louis C.K.”

  1. Jeff Russell says:

    I appreciate the up front and straightforward nature of his statement. Just seeing it makes me want to go and pay the $5 to download his product.

    A lot of the time the restrictions that production companies put on their media serves as either a challenge or a deterrent. A challenge to hackers that would copy and distribute media that is not supposed to be accessible for which to do that and a deterrent because of the FACT that they obviously don’t trust me as a consumer.

    I realize it’s a hard line to walk, but I appreciate the side of the line that Louis C.K. chose to stand on!

  2. Beautiful.

    Like Jeff said, it makes me want to pay $5 just on principle.

  3. I had a friend, Dave O’Connell, who is a musician an wrote a song about pirating and how it affected him. His message, much like C.K.’s, is to trust the user.


    C.K. just threw the world a huge complement stating that he could trust us not to rip him off, even though it would be easy to do.

    I’m impressed and I’m actually going to seek out his video now because C.K trusts me.

  4. Owen Marcus says:

    His message is intelligent written to intelligent readers.

    It’s not that users don’t want the producer to be paid, it’s that they get tied of paying an unreasonable markup.

  5. Ben Knight says:

    Transparency is the key here. He states how much he makes and where the profit is going. Though the digital world is inherently fungible, what is missing is unique offering per download.

  6. Aaron says:

    Love what he is doing – and how he handled all those transactions through PayPal! Cutting the middle-man right out of the deal.

  7. Damian says:

    I think treating your customers as adults it’s a great idea. But I don’t think Luis C.K is doing that when he is so bluntly lying into my face.
    I’m pretty sure he knows what a torrent is, or at least the general idea, if not, he wouldn’t write this particular letter.
    Also, big question. What’s the problem with being a company or a corporation? I’m pretty sure he had several people working for him on this projects, thus it is a de facto company with him as CEO.

    Posing as a “simple person” helps with empathizing, but making 1 million dolars in 12 days goes a little bit against the “I’m just a guy”, right?

    A more adult way to put this, would have been: I’m going out of my way to make it very easy for you to get this video, please don’t pirate it.

    Thanks for liking my stuff and making me a millionaire!

    Total disclosure, I think he is Genius, I watch all of his videos /shows and I think he really thought about what to put in that letter to come out as a “nice guy and bit ignorant” and I do think he deserves the money, but he’s not fooling me.

  8. Tozier says:

    Way to go, Louis. The video’s cheap, easy to buy, instantly delivered. And he shows such respect for his customers that they’ll want to live up to his high opinion of them. That’s class.

  9. Noah Lomax says:

    Not only do I love the respect that his transparency shows, but I also think this is the most effective weapon in the war on piracy.

    Fighting it legally is not really stopping it. There will always be a way to steal, cheat the system, jailbreak, etc.

    Louis’s note made it personal, and that is powerful!

  10. Matt says:

    I think I remember Stephen King had something similar in the foreward to his online story ‘The Plant’