Louis CK On Piracy In Australia: 'The Whole Country Pirates TV'

Imagine walking up to Louis CK and telling him you pirated his show. That's what the majority of Aussies did on his recent visit here, which made the comedian realise just how bad piracy is in Australia compared to the US.

Louis CK knows a few things about distributing content. He made a boatload from his $5 special experiment which saw him put up a copy of his comedy show for $5 from anywhere in the world.

After his initial $5 experiment, Louis CK released more shows at his "drastically low price", including Live at the Beacon, Live at Carnegie Hall and The Crowd Work Tour featuring several other comedians. Purchasers are free to share the DRM-less files.

It was a beautiful experiment in pricing and availability as the cure for piracy, and now he's finally figured out why the so-called worst nation for piracy in the world resorts to downloading content illegally.

Speaking on the Opie and Anthony Show on US satellite radio network Sirius XM a few months ago, Louis CK recalled spending some time in Australia. Despite the fact that hs hit show Louie doesn't air here, Aussies were still telling him how much they loved it.

They were admitting to the show's star and creator that they were pirating his material.

That led CK to the conclusion that everyone in Australia pirates content because there's no other way to get it here.

The whole country pirates there. [In the US] weirdos pirate things, but in Australia, moms and dads pirate video, because we're not letting them buy it. We're keeping it from them," he said.

"Everybody in the world is like 'take my fucking credit card' and just let me have the thing, and I'll pay. But if you're going to be a pain in the ass, fuck you! I can steal all of it!"

"So the whole country rips TV," he added.

He doesn't know how right he is.

Campbell Simpson also contributed to this report.



    Louis CK is the man and spot on with his observation.

    His show, especially in later seasons, is some of the best comedy I've ever seen. The long drawn out scenes are cinematic as all hell.

      Yeah I gotta agree, that man has talent and not just as a comedian

    Louie is fantastic. So fantastic that whilst I do pirate it, I have still bought his stand ups (that are awesome as well).

      do you have a link to his videos? so i wont have to visit the bay? =)


        No regional distributors, no DRM, no extra software you have to download. It's just $5USD. That's it.

          And for every $5 you pay, Louis get to keep $5.
          (minus the Paypal fee)

            Why should I care how much of the payment he gets? He's not a charity.

              Ah....because if you like his content, then I would hope you would want all the money going to him, not to other shit

              Because there is something fundamentally unjust with a system where the distributors make maybe 500 percent more profit from a product than the person who created it.
              That's why.

              Because it's a cheap as shit price and the guys worth ten times that price. Don't be an ass.

        Most of them are on youtube.

          Then you've got guys like this ^^ who are determined not to pay anything no matter how convenient or reasonably priced they are.

            They always have an excuse for it too. It's $5USD, That's pocket money, Couch money, or a beer at an expensive pub/club.

              What Pub/Club are you going to. Here thats a CHEAP Pub/Club.

              I'm lucky if I can get anything inside any establishment for <$10 here in Perth.

              $5 USD? A beer at an expensive pub/club? You haven't been out in a while. That's more like half or a third of a beer ...

                You would be correct, Rather drink at home with friends now days. But is it really that expensive now?

                  Schooner of light beer at my local = $5.50

    Finally someone realises that if they give us the content we want at a fair price we will bloody pay for it !

      Yeah, just like the guy above who responded to comments on where to get it for a fair price with 'lol its on teh youtubes!'

        The fact that pirates will always exist is the worst excuse not to do something or congratulate those who do something constructive about reducing it.

          That's pretty much spot on. There will always be some people who will feel that any price (except the price in time of trying to find a good copy) is too expensive, and they are a lot cause. The real trick is to come up with something that the other (majority, in my opinion) of people are willing to part with their money to use.

      I've often wanted to build a media search engine where you search for a film or TV show or whatever, and it lists availability (with link) on Itunes, Quickflix, Bigpond movies, Sony Entertainment Network, Google Play and torrents.

      The main reason I would like to build it is so that people can search for a recent movies and see:
      itunes: not available
      Quickflix: not available
      Bigpond movies: not available
      Sony Entertainment Network: not available
      Google Play: not available
      Torrent: choose from 10 available BRRips.

    lol I watched his whole new season last night,

    Well - we're making progress. The public get it (they're the ones who want the content), the people that produce the shows get it (GoT is a good example), now we just need the people that provide the content to get it!

      Is GoT is a good example though? Have the producers said anything to indicate they give a stuff that we're getting screwed over?

      Because otherwise GoT is a prime example of WHY we pirate stuff. Seeing how it's insanely popular and we've been forced that the ONLY way to legitimately get it in Australia is by getting a Foxtel subscription.

        I could be mistaken, but I thought I read an article a while back saying the producers didn't give a toss if it was being pirated - they were just happy so many people were watching it.

        But - yes - it's also a good example of how it's such a huge show in Aus despite foxtel's draconian broadcast practices.

    I think Louie is available on Foxtel actually. This may be a new thing though so maybe he was right at the time.

    I've been meaning to check the show out because everybody raves about it. Just haven't gotten around to it yet.

    Yes, yes, blah blah 30 channels of crap $1M a month subscription fee. My point is purely semantics.

    Last edited 06/06/14 10:24 am

      Yes it is on Foxtel and has been for a while, you should check it out.

    yeh, he's right. and pirating is shit really... i would rather pay my $10 - $20 a month and stream what ever i want to watch on the spot. How much time do you waste searching and downloading and organising your media library? How much does your seedbox cost? hmmm.... give me netflix, no fuckin around with vpn's etc... make it easy and they will pay.

      We want a mirror image of the US netflix though ! Not a POS Aus version that has half the content but double the price !
      I pay for a VPN and US Netflix because it has all the content I want to watch on it

        yeh, thats what i mean, the average mum & dad wouldn't have a clue what a VPN is let alone set one up to access netflix.

          Suburban mum here. Hate to break it to you but we all do. The how to set up Netflix email went around last year.

        I would love mirrors of everything that we pay subs for but because AU buys media from the US, AU has to recoup investment shows by ratings. If AU were to lose those ratings to an overseas competitor, they would lose money. That is my understanding of it.

          I know its very ambitious to expect this from an Australian version of netflix but what would make me swap from my $16 a month VPN and US Netflix sub ?

            im confused at why you pay $16 a month for a VPN when you could use unblock-us

              The $16 includes 9 dollars for netflix and like 6 for VPN with uno telly , I mentioned above the $16 was for both.

            Funnily enough, you've hit on one of the real problems of the 'holdout' strategy that is adopted for media licensing in Australia. Back in the day, before things like parallel import laws and the Internet, media companies really could decide how people would consume their media because there was basically no alternative.
            However, now people do have alternatives of various shades of legality and ethical acceptability. If the offered service is sufficiently bad, then people will use more circuitous (and dubious) routes for their media. Once people are adjusted to that (i.e. people think of piracy as the normal way to get media, or using Netflix and a VPN, or whatever) then the local media has to compete with these other things as the incumbents. The locals not only have to be good enough to get people on board who aren't already using another service, they need to be good enough to draw people away from either quite cheap services like Netflix, or the 'free' piracy option. The longer they hold out, the more people will adjust to these alternative approaches to getting media and the harder it will be for the local companies to actually compete.

        You don't need a vpn to watch netflix. Use MediaHint on PaleMoon (formerly used Firefox but no longer 'cause they're evil)

          Yeah I mainly use my apple tv to stream netflix onto my TV. I dont mind paying $4.99 for the vpn

          What on earths 'evil' about firefox

    So Google and Louis C. K. agree and yes the best option the government can come up with is a 3 strikes rule. Maybe the government doesn't want us using our internet connections for legal downloads or streaming. It might increase our usage and make their NBN plan look bad.

      Of course the sole purpose of an NBN would be for you to watch video.

      I don't think the NBN needs any help looking bad at this point in time, considering 1/3 of the current fibre rollout doesn't work due to faulty equipment or never being installed in the first place.


        If you read that article more carefully, you'd see that the truth is far less interesting and sensational.

        It's not that the NBN "isn't working" as the headline suggests - it's that each installation to an actual premises is a bit harder than just passing premises under the footpath. This problem is common to almost every single brownfield infrastructure project. Blind Freddy could have told you this would happen.

        For an installation, you need to have a suitable conduit installed in the ground, from your house to the comms pit in the footpath. A lot of these conduits have been in the ground for years, and are old and busted, probably full of other cables or blocked with mud. It's relatively common that a new conduit is needed. And that means trenching in people's front yards, and potentially cutting water pipesand other ancient buried nasties. It might even involve cutting through driveways, digging up gardens or tunneling under stuff. In short, it's complicated.

        All of these problems are relatively easy to fix, but take time and costs money. There's now a major backlog of "problem sites" where such work is needed, and there's a limited supply of labour crews to sort them out.

        The other problem is multiple dwellings in a single property, which is also complicated and AFAIK still a policy "grey area." They will probably end up with fibre to the basement (split into multiple copper "nodes" from a common area in the complex.

        Again, it's not that the NBN isn't working, so much as having trouble implementing a muddy policy and sorting out the inevitable complications around such a massive project.

          I understand most of that, but it seems like instead of addressing (some) of these issues as they went, they've been simply left / ignored / deliberately omitted / forgotten about until it was a bit too late (ie, Tasmania copper going dark-ish).

          Of course so many properties wouldn't have been passed if they had proper planning and implementation, but I figure that's preferable than going back to sites to address issues they could've deal with at the time.

            Are you sure that its the same contractors that roll out the cable also connect it to a premise"? I suspect they are different entities.

            Dang if the NBN fibre optic cable ran past my place I'd hire a backhoe and dig the trench myself.

              That's not clear, no - everything i've read only refers to "contractors" as an amorphous mass.

              I'll have to see if Nick Ross or Delimiter have anything to say on the matter - they're usually much clearer with the finer details.

          Which is why the NBN was doomed from the beginning.

          First pass should have been constructing Fibre to the node nationally. This would in theory provide basic 25 mbps to 90% of the population. From there work out how to provide fibre to the home (rather difficult I might add) .

            And in theory these problems didn't exist in the first place.
            The problem is that the theory rarely matches reality, and if it were FTTN rather than FTTP there would be different problems involving managing nodes and continued maintenance of degraded copper.
            Pushing back FTTP ten years wouldn't have led to better conduit to these properties - if anything, it would provide another 10 years worth of problem aggregation for the conduits (which may have made no difference, but it wasn't going to make it better). What it would have done (and will do where relevant) is lead to increased cost due to having to pull and splice fibre repeatedly.

          All of these problems are relatively easy to fix, but take time and costs money. There's now a major backlog of "problem sites" where such work is needed, and there's a limited supply of labour crews to sort them out.

          Couldn't you get the work for the dole kids to do it? Seems like a) cheap (ish) labour - I'm not advocating paying less than reasonable rates - and b) a community service. The Libs are keen to clamp down on the evil dole-bludgers. Seems like a good fit.

            As someone currently on Work for the Dole, I can say with confidence that reasonable rates are not going to happen. "Pay" is twenty bucks and change a fortnight, whether one does fifteen hours or sixty.

            Last edited 07/06/14 10:02 am

      But without restricting content and implementing an arbitrary three-strikes rule, how can the government say Australia is open for business to companies like Foxtel , Sony Music, WarnerBros etc?? Legislation to support restricting content and punishing people with criminal convictions who just want to watch stuff that's otherwise unavailable to them, makes good business sense for content providers and copyright holders with 20th century business models!

      Last edited 06/06/14 11:59 am

    The first three seasons of Louis have been shown late at night, free to air on ABC2. The ABC clearly doesn't do a good job of promoting its stuff?

    His comedy is honest and frank... which is why it's so appealing. Plus he has no qualms about telling it like it is, without any conceit...

    Louie is (was?) aired on ABC2, wasn't it?


    I don't pirate TV or Movies and I am considered an idiot by my friends for not doing so. I guess they are probably right.

      Only if you pay for Foxtel.

        Where do you people think content comes from? Its all created for you to download for free?

          If you only watch non-pirated YouTube videos, yes.

          I'd love to know the % of profit that Foxtel puts back into the communtiy by funding homegrown entertainment. The again, anything they did fund would be locked to their platform.

          The vast majority of content that is pirated is from the US, with no other option of access to that material than through Foxtel or movie theaters, which can delay certain things by months after they have aired in the US. We live in a global society, that shit has been flying for decades over here but they cant keep up the illusion of cheap available content when the average joe has access to an internet connection.

    Its basically racism, I mean whole countries being said no too, just cause they don't have paid advertising from that country to bother, want to work out exchange rates/charges, etc..

    We watch and pay for netflix here, but have to login via proxy/country changing software to do so.. its stupid.. We're already watching so, why bother trying to stop us?
    It seems to be an american thing mostly, HBO, NBC, FOX, CBS, Netflix, the list goes on...

    ANd then when they do let us watch or download software from the us, your still better tricking it into thinking your a US citizen cause they somehow add anywhere up to double the price of what it would be in USD when purchasing legit in AUD!! More racism if you ask me..

      "Australian" isn't a race, so no. Not even remotely similar.

        Well discrimination based on location.. hows that? could even say currency or poverty levels or pick anything that differs from country to country as do races of people which is why I said racist...

          As we're a multicultural society, consisting of many races, it makes no sense what-so-ever. It's a regional "you're just too hard, if not completely impractical or impossible".


          Well.....the rights for media - TV shows specifically - are often sold exclusively to a broadcaster, and are sold region to region. That deal can sometimes cover sales of the show on DVD, or the rights are also handed on to a physical distributor to market.

          This is why iView has some shows for two weeks, and others for months. Different rights and contracts for different shows and rights holders. It's also why iView is region blocked for non-Australian viewers. The BBC for instance has it's own rights deals with broadcasters around the world for their programs. They don't Johnny America seeing Grand Designs on iView, this would depreciate its value to NetworkUSA who has paid to air it with their advertising.

          As for Netflix. I fear what an Au service would look like. What is in Netflix's library for the US has different rights holders in Australia, with different contract lengths and conditions. There is no simple way that they'll be able to replicate that here. Indeed, they'd be sued incredibly quickly and have content deals revoked if they just opened up the US service to Australians.

          Do you remember how long it took iTunes Music to open in Au? And even then the libraries were and still are quite different, with holdouts like SONY hoping their crappy store's exclusive Sony/EMI Music deals would attract customers. And we all know how well Sony's service is doing (ok, but not that well - they also caved long ago and also sell via iTunes).

          Sadly Foxtel has a habit of exclusivity, that's why you can't get Game of Thrones anywhere but but there for MONTHS. Foxtel own rights to stream / broadcast, and that deal also ensures no one (iTunes, DVDs) sells that content for at least a few months.

          Foxtel is racist to The Not-having-cable Peoples. The bigoted brutes!!

          So...not only is it not racist, but you don't seem to be aware of the main reasons stopping these services from simply unblocking the service and accepting Au customers. It has little to do with an unwillingness to service the market and more to do with the complexities and costs of even trying to build a collection of content people want to pay for.

          Last edited 06/06/14 11:18 pm

            That's really interesting. So what is the answer? the complexities of rights and distribution contracts preventing streaming services and options for Australian consumers is why piracy is what it is here. There is little doubt Louie has a point and this cage locks money out, not in. The GoT example is priceless. Without pirating, who the fuck is ever going to see this here? I have but one legit option to give some dollars to watch this. That option is sufficiently insane enough that I have only two other options. Pirate, or wait till I can legitimately purchase it reasonably.
            I don't care how messy rights management is. find an answer distributors, and stop locking me out of paying a reasonable dollar for something I want.

            Maybe doesn't care about the motives, just the end result.

            Different races have different genetics. Can you imagine if health insurance companies started discriminating based on your genetic predisposition to certain diseases and conditions?
            "It's not about your skin colour, it's about the very real, provable, measurable differences that have an impact on service delivery!"
            I'm sure that'd make people feel SO much better about the discrimination.

        Italian or Chinese aren't races either, so by your definition jokes about eyeties and chinks are OK? I don't think so. Bloke28 is perfectly entitled to call it racism if it's a form of discrimination directed to people of a certain nationality, be that Australian, Chinese or Italian.

          They're nationalities, just like Australia. Although China encompasses several countries, unlike Italy and Australia.

          ~90% of Chinese people are Han Chinese, and unlike Australia, most of the other ethnic groups have been there for a very, very long time and share some superficial physical traits [thus the "slanty eyed" stereotype joke]. It is not a country made from immigration, at least not in a contemporaneous sense.

          The same can be said for Italy. Over 90% of the population are ethnic Italians.

          When racist jokes are made about these two "countries" they're being aimed at a very specific ethnic group.

          If you want to talk about "ethnic Australians", we're talking Indigenous Australians. To describe something targeting Australia as "racist" that doesn't refer to Indigenous Australians is pretty bloody offensive in it's own right.

          The word Bloke28 was looking for was "discriminatory" - and even then, looking at the causes of this situation, it wouldn't exactly be accurate.

          Last edited 10/06/14 10:50 am

      Um.. racism? Or do you mean misogyny?

        It's neither of those, but it's definitely closer to racism, unless Australia only has females living here.

    Try living here first!. We get ripped off everyday. When it's cheaper for someone too fly to the USA buy a product and fly home?. When a download cost X2, X4 times as much?.
    Then last week we get the price on Tesla Model S, and find out we have be ripped again on cars.
    You can sit in America think you are being ripped off, try this Model S $90,000us, BMW M5 $90,000us, Corvette $57,000us,in OZ Model S &98,000au, BMW M5 $225,000au, Corvette $200,000au.There are 2 pirates, one steals and the other that extortes. In OZ we have both!. Want to stop piracy?, do what BBC do with Dr Who.
    Give it to the world at the same time and same price!. Till then you can sleep on the bags of my money that I paid for all my legal movies & software.

    Louis CK's TV show "Louie" has been shown on ABC2 for several years now. Whoever informed the author of this piece and Louis himself, was misinformed.

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