Understanding Free Content

Content is an unlimited resource. People can now make perfect copies of digital content for free. That’s why they expect content to be free — because it is in fact free. That is GOOD.

Think of “content” — culture — as water. Where water flows, life flourishes.

content is free, like water in a river
Containers — objects like books, DVDs, hard drives, apparel, action figures, and prints — are not free. They are a limited resource. No one expects these objects to be free, and people voluntarily pay good money for them.

containers are not free
Think of “containers” — books, discs, hard drives — as jugs and vessels. These containers add utility to and increase the value of the water. If you can get water for free in the public river, great — that doesn’t reduce the value of vessels. Quite the contrary: when rivers flow, the utility and value of water vessels increases.

free vs not free; use the unlimited resource to sell the limited resource
 
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Thank You Free Culture

How many independent animators get a Bangok high fashion line named after their film? None, unless they let people share:

“First of the treats for fans of the brand this year is the presentation of its Spring/Summer 2009 collection. Titled “Sita Sings the Blues” after the stunning animation film by US cartoonist/artist Nina Paley, the collection was unveiled for the first time to fans and fashionistas in the form of a choreographed presentation against the backdrop of the famed animation….” link

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Sita DVD announcement list

We’re almost done authoring the Sita Sings the Blues DVD packaging and getting an order fulfillment service to ship it. Meanwhile, here’s something to do: sign up here with just your email address, and we’ll send you an mail with ordering information as soon as it’s ready.

Because the “content” is free – you can download it all online – what we’re actually selling is DVD packaging, not the film itself. This includes a nicely printed full color recycled cardstock “eco” case, and a silkscreened “pre-downloaded” DVD with the film and various features like subtitles, the trailer, and some video interviews of me ranting about copyright. The DVD is a nice package, a real object, and you can actually own it – it’ll still be there even if the internet (or your connection to it) disappears.

We’re planning two “Official” editions of the DVD packaging. The basic consumer version will be about $20:

cover_predownloaded_1.jpg

Then there’s the Artist’s Edition, which will be about $100. This will be a more elaborate package – 6 panels instead of 4 – numbered and signed by me. This edition will be limited to 4,999. Why 4,999? Because for every 5,000 DVDs sold, I have to make additional payments (beyond the $50,000 I have already paid) to the corporations that hold copyright monopolies on some of the music used in the film.  I don’t believe culture can be owned, and I’ve released my film under a free license to ensure that it can never be similarly trapped, but as long as the government enforces these monopolies, I must count DVDs.

Artist’s Edition

The cover art isn’t final but will be in a few days. I could use the “happy Sita” image on the artist’s edition, and the “artsy Sita” on the consumer version. Leave your suggestions now or forever hold your peace. Thanks!

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