Free for the Taking —
So, with just a little less than a couple years between the release date and the present day, you can grab free copies of the BBS Documentary DVD set online. For example:
All eight episodes were put on Google Video.
Legaltorrents has a copy of ARTSCENE.
Mininova points to a few of the episodes on Bittorrent.
Torrentspy has the Infofallout 2.3gb AVI collection.
There’s a bunch more out there, all of variant levels of quality and usefulness depending on what you’re looking to get out of the whole thing. The resolution of the original work was 720×540. The Google Video ones, for example, are 320×240… a savings of over 50%!
The re-encoding and resolution reduction also means it blurs in places and sounds washed out. And you don’t get the subtitles or the bonus stuff or any of that “extra” crap. But you do get the movie!
So the question is, does this bother me?
And really, it doesn’t. There are people who would never buy a DVD who might watch something on Google Video. And there’s kids who can’t afford $40 for a film, who are interested in whatever the hell this BBS Documentary thing is, so there I am, just another thing, easily downloaded, easily watched.
I’d love it if everyone who has seen the movie bought the DVDs. But that’s not how it works these days, and the energy I could spend being an asshole, I’d rather spend making my current films. Well, OK, I’m an asshole regardless, but I mean a miserly asshole versus an oblivious asshole.
And just one step back, I’m kind of delighted to be one of those huge things you stumble upon, looking around for “BBS” and finding this whole movie online. You don’t know the story, the guy, the reasons, it’s just this film you found… and it’s pretty good! Especially for free.
So hey, enjoy. And throw me a few bucks if you had a good time.
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In the end, the question is whether people enjoying your work without paying you for the effort you put into it makes you squirm in your seat. That’s something I was wondering about my own creative work today. But I think when you’ve produced a labor of love, allowing more people to enjoy it is a good thing, as long as they aren’t exploiting it financially without your permission.
I’m on the verge of releasing Commodork in PDF format, DRM free. I’ll be releasing it for free and asking for donations from satisfied readers. As I’ve previously stated, the irony of people pirating my book about my stories about piracy are not lost upon me.
And while I am certainly in favor of people who actually create things getting compensated for them, this much too, is true – 50 years from now.
As a bit of an aesthetic snob, I could go on for hours about how horrible it is that great movies and records go out of print and sink into obscurity.
I’m all for paying for what you consume, if for no other reason that it ensures that things of worth (that cost money and sweat and time to make) will continue to be made.
But I suppose there are other forms of profit than financial. Still, big words from someone who has never created something anyone’s wanted to pirate, so, full disclosure right there.
Look at what’s happened to Eyes on the Prize. Now that’s a horrid shame.