For years we’ve heard sob stories about how the entertainment industry has been losing money to various online outlets that made the material available for free. But now the good men of Monty Python have thrown a monkey wrench into that argument.
In November, the Pythons launched a YouTube channel featuring much of their classic material with the simple request-
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.
The fans responded, and now Mashable is reporting that sales of Python DVDs on Amazon has risen to no 2 on the web retailers Movies & TV Bestsellers list, an incredible increase of 23,000%! Coincidence? I think not.
While I don’t think that such an approach would work for every artist or film out there, it does show that the draconian attempts by the recording and motion picture industries to control online content may be, at least in part, wrong-headed. Claiming that online pirates, filesharing protocols such as BitTorrent and sites like YouTube have cut into their revenue streams, they lobbied Congress to pass the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, a law that has been criticized on numerous levels for its potential for creating monopolies, limiting competition and being against the Fair Use doctrine of US Copyright law. (Of course, in their hubris, the entertainment industry would never admit that a contributing factor to their declining revenues may be the declining quality of their product.)
I think the obvious lesson to be learned here is that the entertainment industry needs to embrace these new technologies, not fight with them. If Viacom were to work with YouTube instead of trying to sue them, perhaps