Pay a voluntary contribution or suffer the shame?

The Real Hustle being filmed in Brighton

So I'm really late to the whole Radiohead price experiment. Many people have said how great it is, others have said there just copying what smaller artist have been doing for years on sites like Amiestreet, some of pondered interesting questions and others have moaned about the quality. But what I found interesting was Ben Metcalfe's post which asks the question Would you pay a voluntary contribution for your BitTorrent usage?

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.

So I know Chris Anderson is writing a new book called Free but honestly if I could pay the artist or production company for my DRM free download I would. Depending on the content I would pay between 1p – 2 pounds. 2 pounds for heroes, dexter, Dr Who, IT crowd, etc. 1 pounds for Ugly Betty, Apprentice, The Real Hustle, etc. 30p for Prison Break, Daily show, etc. I would also pay for podcasters and videocasters for their efforts if it was conveient and simple.

There was something interesting I heard at the wealth of networks conference in Boston. The Social Facebook application, called Causes. So the thinking behind the causes application is that the person can indicate what causes they support. But that application also tells people if you've donated money or helped that cause recruit new members. The idea being that if your friends have all donated loads of money over months, and you nothing. You would be shamed into taking the cause off your list. Now if you imagine something like this for TV, Music and even Film I guess? (I know Tioti is thinking about badges to indicate you like a certain show) you could have some site like or tioti/sharetv which tracks your tv/music but also shows when you donated money or helped out in someway. I guess the people who just want stuff for free will not sign up, but for the rest of us this is a way of showing your really a fan and enjoyed the show so much you paid or did something in return. This would also show the producers how popular there show/tune is and you could build grassroot graphs and charts I guess. If the real hustle series 1 rakes in a load of money and series 2 double that, you know your doing something right. If its less and less then its time to change something or give up. Its like voting for a show but the financial decision means votes are not given in vain or lightly. Hey and its helping out the people who work really hard. Just a idea, not really formed yet.

I'm not really a fan of Radiohead, but if this helps the content producers and owners into considering other business/revenue models, then put me down for 5 pounds…

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