[Reader-list] Moore: Pirate my film, no problem!

Shekhar Krishnan shekhar at crit.org.in
Sun Jul 4 21:04:36 IST 2004


Moore: pirate my film, no problem

Fury as Fahrenheit 9/11 director backs illegal not-for-profit downloads
By Iain S Bruce, Online Editor

Controversial film-maker Michael Moore has welcomed the appearance on 
the internet of pirated copies of his anti-Bush documentary Fahrenheit 
9/11 and claimed he is happy for anybody to download it free of charge.

The activist, author and director told the Sunday Herald that, as long 
as pirated copies of his film were not being sold, he had no problem 
with it being downloaded.

“I don’t agree with the copyright laws and I don’t have a problem with 
people downloading the movie and sharing it with people as long as 
they’re not trying to make a profit off my labour. I would oppose 
that,” he said.

“I do well enough already and I made this film because I want the 
world, to change. The more people who see it the better, so I’m happy 
this is happening.”

Moore’s views have not been well received by Hollywood’s establishment, 
which is fighting a war against the online pirates it claims cost the 
industry £1.6 billion a year in lost sales.

Jack Valenti, the outgoing president of the Motion Picture Association 
of America (MPAA), said: “We are proud that American films continue to 
enjoy immense popularity around the world but the need for copyright 
protection in the digital age is crucial to the preservation of our 
most prized trade asset.

“Piracy is having a dramatic impact on the creators and copyright 
owners of this nation, and its defeat depends largely on the commit 
ment and resolve of the entire industry.

“File sharing causes tremendous financial loss to the movie business, 
untold hardship to support workers, and costs thousands of jobs.”

Distributed via websites such as suprnova.org, which lays claim to 
having served more than 17 million downloads, Moore’s documentary 
critique of the Bush administration’s red, white and blue rush into war 
with Iraq is among the web’s hottest properties.

Thousands of copies of Fahrenheit 9/11 have already been downloaded, 
each taking about 3.5 hours over a broadband connection.

Ironically, the burgeoning underground market for Moore’s much-debated 
documentary has been championed by both sides of the political divide. 
While left-wing sites promote the film’s message, opponents of the 
high-profile polemicist are urging people to “steal” their copy, thus 
denying its director his cut of the profits.

Last month the website of producers Lions Gate Films was subjected to a 
barrage of attacks by hackers, with one creating a link to a download 
destination on the site’s front page.

Despite up to 150 people simultaneously bagging free copies of its most 
valuable property at any given time 24 hours a day, Lions Gate says it 
has no plans to oppose the practice. While unwilling to make any 
official statement likely to further provoke Hollywood’s heavy hitters, 
the film company appears to have fallen into line with its director’s 
laissez-faire approach.

Moore said: “Is it wrong for someone who’s bought a film on DVD to let 
a friend watch it for free? Of course it’s not. It never has been and 
never will be. I think information, art and ideas should be shared.”

Defenders of Moore’s position include Pulp Fiction director Quentin 
Tarantino, who earlier this year encouraged audiences in countries 
where his films are not legally available to obtain counterfeit copies.

  The furore engulfing Moore is just the latest in a series of 
controversies surrounding the film. Almost smothered by original 
production company Miramax’s refusal to distribute the final cut, he 
also this year launched an unsuccessful legal attempt to overturn the 
MPAA’s decision to give the documentary an “R” rating, which barred 
under-16s from seeing the movie without an adult.

Opposed by Move America Forward, a conservative group set up to 
dissuade cinemas from showing the film, Fahrenheit 9/11 has become one 
of the most controversial productions in Hollywood history. Last month 
Australian distributors Hopscotch Films claimed to have received 
e-mails warning that if the company went ahead with its planned release 
of the movie, it would do so “at our own peril”.

The hubbub is unlikely to subside any time soon. With Lions Gate 
reporting that DVD rights are likely to be won by Disney-owned Buena 
Vista Home Entertainment, many commentators believe the digital 
distribution network may yet face serious opposition.

Valenti said: “Nobody can allow their rights to be stolen because, if 
you can’t retrieve your investment, you’re out of the movie business,

“I don’t think there’s really a single actor or director in the world 
who does not believe that if you don’t combat piracy, it will devour 
you in the future.”

  04 July 2004

Shekhar Krishnan
9, Supriya, 2nd Floor
Plot 709, Parsee Colony Road no.4
Dadar, Bombay 400014

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