Comedian Louis C.K. has put himself at the forefront of digital distribution experimentation by making his most recent live performance available for purchase directly from a dedicated site for $5, worldwide and without any rights restrictions. As he puts it on the site, “No DRM, no regional restrictions, no crap. You can download this file, play it as much as you like, burn it to a DVD, whatever.”

C.K. financed the production and distribution himself. The technical side of the project was handled by Caspar Newbolt and Giles Copp of Version Industries, and payment was accepted only via PayPal. Nobody is required to register with the site, either, although everyone is given the option of being added to the mailing list. In another welcome change from typical practice, viewers have to affirmatively choose to receive future communications – or to quote C.K.’s wording on the default option, “No, leave me alone forever, you fat idiot.”

It’s too early to tell if the idea is a success, since it just went live Saturday Dec. 10. As the comedian tweeted in response to that question, “I don’t know the stats yet. It’s like a pile of 5 dollar bills and a sleepy lobster is sorting through it.”

Viewers who pay their five bucks can access the file twice. It can be streamed in a browser window, or it can be downloaded as an MPEG 4 video file.

C.K. admits that he was advised to protect the files against piracy but that he wanted to make it as easy as possible for people to view the special. His only defense against getting ripped off is a plea to people’s better nature, the full text of which is posted below. “I would like to be able to post more material to the fans in this way, which makes it cheaper for the buyer and more pleasant for me,” he wrote in part. “So, please help me keep this being a good idea.”

Related links:

IP Brief – Amidst SOPA and DMCA, Comedian Louis C.K. Speaks to Artists’ Relationship with Pirates

The Onion’s AV Club – Louis C.K.