The shadowy group who call themselves the League of Noble Peers have recently released the second installment in their Steal This Film project. Steal This Film II definitely has the feel of a second chapter, but adds a couple of really interesting new logs to the fire. First, it builds upon the notion that the implicit culture that is emerging is not that of scofflaw rebels, but of a genuine alternative political culture. Second, it foreshadows the next phase of the group’s work in referring to a remark attributed to Mark Getty, to wit: “Intellectual property is the oil of the twenty-first century.” One of the films “protaganists” suggests that Getty’s proposition amounts to a declaration of war, implying that the major political confrontation of the 21st century will be defined by the battle to control intellectual property. If this is so, then it has implications that extend well beyond the pirate culture that has so disrupted the mass media business model.
The most important contribution that Steal This Film II makes to the debate over copyright/IP is this suggestion that what we have seen in the reaction to the technology and culture of file sharing is just an opening skirmish in what may be a far deeper and more protracted conflict.