January 28th, 2008
I recently checked out the documentary film “Steal This Film II“. It is a film put together by the League of Noble Peers, a group of file sharing evangelists who got together for the purpose of communicating about the realities of digital media sharing.
The documentary itself was released over the bit-torrent network as a free piece of work with the instruction to freely transfer the film to others. The League of Noble Peers actually went to the effort of copyrighting the film as the only legal way they could ensure that they could dictate that the film was free to share and transfer for anyone who wanted it.
[to watch the film, click the link on the left and choose the download your preferred format with your favorite bittorrent client : my fav for OSX is Transmission]
Content-wise the film does a good job of painting the picture of the way that digital media is shared and the reasons that people do it. It also does a very good job at pointing out how weak the position of the record labels and film producers is, even though the law is still largely supports them.
The main points made in the film is that the cost of redistributing digital content is virtually nothing, the technology exists already to make the content accessible to a large percentage of people (breaking down several economic and social barriers as it does so), and society feels it should be allowed to redistribute content freely. The combined strength of this wave seems to be leading to the inevitable change in the social acceptance of the practice and eventually the social structures that govern that, ie. the law.
The converse position is covered to some extend, although to be fair, this film doesn’t exactly have a balanced agenda. Media artist, Sebastian Lütgert, quoted Mark Getty (one of the largest intellectual property owners in the world) taking the anti sharing stance with “Intellectual property is the oil of the 21st century.” – meaning that basically the intellectual property owners will fight for their media just as countries have fought for oil. A strong and powerful analogy.
Making appearances in the film are quite a few well known names from the larger file sharing sites around the web. The eloquent discussion from representatives of piratebay.org and mininova.org was very interesting to see considering these powerhouses usually stay largely anonymous thumbing their noses at the establishment.
Overall a great film for getting informed about the arguments for file sharing and the free distribution of media and ideas.
I had a bit more to say about this in an earlier article about keeping control of your digital media.
[ EXTRA : I forgot to mention some the great interviews with Vague Blur, who is a character to represent everyone in their anonymity, everyone and no-one … check it out ]