Thursday, September 24, 2009

Monty Python's letter to you masses

How many people have heard the music industry whine and complain about how their industry is changing? OK, you can put your hand down. I'm sure the horse and buggy industry talked about the downfall of everything if cars kept being produced.

But the music industry isn't the only one being "hurt" by people taking intellectual property that isn't theirs and distributing it. Software and video have the same problem. What do you do if you can't beat them? C'mon, you know the answer - join them, but do it better!

In Free: The Future of a Radical Price, Chris Anderson talks about why we should embrace the coming price revolution and how to use it to our advantage. In the first chapter he describes Monty Python's response:

In November 2008, the surviving members of the original Monty Python team, stunned by the extent of digital piracy of their videos, issued a very stern announcement on YouTube:
For 3 years you YouTubers have been ripping us off, taking tens of thousands of our videos and putting them on YouTube.

Now the tables are turned. It's time for us to take matters into our own hands.

We know who you are, we know where you live and we could come after you in ways too horrible to tell. But being the extraordinarily nice chaps we are, we've figured a better way to get our own back: We've launched our own Monty Python channel on YouTube.

No more of those crap quality videos you've been posting. We're giving you the real thing - high quality videos delivered straight from our vault. What's more, we're taking our most viewed clips and uploading brand new high quality versions. And what's even more, we're letting you see absolutely everything for free. So there!

But we want something in return. None of your driveling, mindless comments. Instead, we want you to click on the links, buy our movies & TV shows and soften our pain and disgust at being ripped off all these years.
Many people think about releasing their "stuff" for free, or even worse someone else doing it, and panic.

But I like Google's approach: let's do something great, and we'll figure out how to make money off it later.

What were the results of Monty Python's response? Three months later, the results of this rash experiment with Free were in. Monty Python's DVDs had climbed to No. 2 on Amazon's Movies and TV best-sellers list, with increased sales of 23,000 percent. Did everyone buy a DVD? Of course not, probably very few of those who watched. But if you are doing it only for money, you are in the wrong business anyway. Their appeal and influence spread far beyond DVD reach and was available to new generations, some of whom wanted more.

Don't panic. Use your imagination, and do something great.

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