Michael Moore has released his film, ‘Slacker Uprising‘ for free download to residents of North America. If you try to download from the website, you get a message saying ‘the lawyers tell us we are only allowed to offer the film to people residing in the United States or Canada’. If you go to Moore’s blog, you’ll read that ‘If you live outside the U.S. and Canada, I’m sorry that I don’t own the rights to make this film available to you for free. But it will be coming to a theater, video store or television network near you soon.’
My ‘recovering lawyer’ friend, Andrew, says that this is probably due to the fact that Moore has used copyrighted and trademarked media in the film that he has rights to publish under fair use in the U.S. (or fair dealing in Canada). He might also have bought rights to music used in the film only for the U.S. and Canada.
The “problem”, as they surely would have realised when they decided to release the film online, is that if this is an attempt to prevent “copyright infringement”, then it’s a poor one. Since Moore has ’embraced BitTorrent, and the official download is using the Pirate Bay tracker’ (I can only read what others have said about the download since I, too, am a resident of the Wild Wild South), anyone who has downloaded the film can make the torrent available to others (the torrent protocol has no methods for limiting by geographical location).
What irks me is that Moore, whose films are supposedly “anti-propaganda”, hasn’t acknowledged the irony of his film’s lack of availability to fans outside of north America. If he doesn’t get a distribution deal outside of north America, will the film ever be available to people outside of that region? And if it doesn’t (reviews of the film are not favorable) then I’ll add that one to the list of how the Internet is actually reducing access to information rather than increasing it globally.
Thanks for the link, Nathaniel!