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Steal This Film

Please run, don’t walk or rather: click, click, click your way to download and watch Steal This Film.
I just came across this excellent documentary produced in the late summer of last year, shortly after the police in Sweden raided the premises which hosted the Bit Torrent tracker site The Pirate Bay. Though it is certainly very one-sided, it is nonetheless an excellent presentation of the issues as they are seen by that side and they present these important ideas in a thoughtful and provocative way without degrading the discussion.

What this film asks us to acknowledge is that file sharing is neither an innocuous activity of harmless “slacker/hackers” nor is the organized resistance to the existing regime of intellectual property law something that people can simply seek to outlaw or dismiss.

All that said, this film should be taken up as the beginning of a discussion rather than the end of an argument. It is high time that industry groups, lawyers and governments stop simply caricaturing the position of those whose dissent against the status quo of IP law. There are simply too many people and too many intelligent voices for people who take democracy seriously to dismiss. At the same time, representatives of both camps are going to have to work hard to establish a form of constructive engagement.

Ultimately, the issues raised by this film make clear that we are dealing (or rather, not dealing) with the changes in the social rather than the (just the) technological world. Increasingly the distinction between the online and “off-line” worlds is collapsing, the rules of neither are wholly suitable to the networked world that lies beyond both.

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