Steal This Film, Part II: the Internet makes us into copiers


The folks behind Steal This Film, an amazing, funny, enraging and inspiring documentary series about copyright and the Internet have just released part II of the series. I taught part one (about the PirateBay crackdown in Sweden and the founding of The Pirate Party) in my class last year, and it was one of the liveliest classes we had.

Part II is even better than part one -- it covers the technological and enforcement end of the copyright wars, and on the way that using the internet makes you a copier, and how copying puts you in legal jeopardy. Starting with Mark Getty's (Chairman of Getty Images) infamous statement that "Intellectual Property is the oil of the 21st century," the filmmakers note that oil always leads to oil-wars, and that these are vicious, ill-conceived and never end well. This leads them to explore the war on copying -- which ultimately becomes a war on the Internet and those of us who use it.

This installment includes punchy interviews with a lot of the US's leading copyfighters -- EFFers like Seth Schoen and Fred von Lohmann, Siva Vaidhyanathan, Eben Moglen, Aaron Swartz, Yochai Benkler, Rick Prelinger, as well as folks in the UK, Sweden and Bangalore. Interspersed with this is are smart historical perspectives, and a brief interview with MPAA chief Dan Glickman, who all but twirls his mustache in glee at the thought of punishing copiers. There's also some interesting material here from new artists who embrace copying, but I'm guessing that that's going to be the main theme of a future installment.

Steal This Film II is available as a P2P download (natch) in several formats, including HD, and opens with a stern warning encouraging you to share it as widely as possible. Link (Thanks, Robbo and everyone else who suggested this!) See also: Steal This Movie: documentary on Swedish piracy movement

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  1. I’ve been waiting for part 2 ever since I saw the first one. From time to time I remembered to check their site, and each time I was a bit disappointed that apparently there hadn’t been all that much progress. But finally it’s here, and thanks to bb I didn’t miss it — thanks Cory, thanks Robbo and all the others!

  2. downloaded this Fri its a good film.

    remember people if you use a P2P client with encryption. like utorrent there is no way for your ISP to peek into your lil packets. Ergo no bandwidth throttling or NAPO visits

  3. I haven’t seen part 1, but part 2 was dull. Despite interviews with some prominent netizens, very little was said that would be surprising to anyone who actually uses the Internet.

  4. I couldn’t disagree more strongly with #2, and I think Cory dramatically underrates the film. Steal This Film II is the first film I’ve seen anywhere that gets to the true heart of how copyright originally happened and why it’s now evil. The selection of wise talking heads, including some certifiable adults (over 40!) makes for a clear, convincing, and mature rebuttal against all the well-intentioned people who still believe file-sharing is stealing, rather than an inevitable, profound, and healthy development in human culture.

    As one guy says, “Music was around before there was a recording industry and I’m sure it will continue to be around after they’re gone.”

    It’s a film I can show my parents — and they might actually understand the stakes. Steal This Film II shows the links between information control and fascism, and explains why open sharing is an essential part of being human.

  5. I guess where #4 references #2, she/he means #3 ;-) I can sort of understand both standpoints. The interviews are interesting to watch, but you only get insightful conclusions if you draw them yourself. Actually they aren’t so much interviews as monologues; there are no hard questions, no investigation. It’s also quite one-sided; I wouldn’t say there is an interview with Dan Glickman; it’s rather like snippets of what he had to say were used to the end of piracy apologetics. The film explains quite lucidly and eloquently that it’s impossible to stop file sharing (at least in a free society). While your typical bb reader already knows all that, of course, this is a powerful message that many people should see. But related topics that would also be interesting — e.g. what should and shouldn’t be shared, which consequences this change in culture could have, what’s right and what’s wrong, how policies should be changed — are barely touched. It’s a bit shallow.

    One thing I found peculiar: They show one “Sebastian Lütgert” of “Pirate Cinema” (who’s part of the Steal This Film team AFAICT), and less than 30 seconds after that scene, they show the exact same guy and label him “Robert Luxemburg, Artist.” What gives, does he represent a different opinion when he’s wearing his artist’s hat and therefore must be considered a different person?

  6. Apologies to DYBBUK for my silly error; of course I was responding to #3’s criticism of the film. #6 NEX has a point about the one-sided slant of the film, but for me it’s a refreshingly straightforward viewpoint. Most people I know are so immersed in a copyright paradigm they have no conception that ownership of intellectual property is a historical artifact, rather than a moral and ethical imperative.

    For me, Steal This Film II does a beautiful job of laying out the history of intellectual property. It describes how small groups of powerful interests have consistently tried to suppress every social change that comes along to threaten their top down control over information. The film makes clear that such top down control is a thing of the past, and that’s a good thing.

    As for the lack of analysis of what this ultimately means for society, no one has any idea what this means and anyone who tells you otherwise is just guessing. The changes yet to come will surely dwarf those we’ve already seen — if we can just keep the would be Internet censors out of the way.

  7. no problem peacelove :)

    i was just a lil confused and starting to feel a little like the proverbial chicken head ;)

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