Steal This Film is a film series documenting the movement against intellectual property directed by Jamie King, produced by The League of Noble Peers and released via the BitTorrent peer-to-peer protocol.
Part One, shot in Sweden and released in August 2006, combines accounts from prominent players in the Swedish piracy culture (The Pirate Bay, Piratbyrån, and the Pirate Party) with found material, propaganda-like slogans and Vox Pops. It includes interviews with The Pirate Bay members Fredrik Neij (tiamo), Gottfrid Svartholm (anakata) and Peter Sunde (brokep) that were later re-used by agreement in the documentary film Good Copy Bad Copy, as well as with
Piratbyrån members Rasmus Fleischer (rsms), Johan (krignell) and Sara Andersson (fraux).
The film is notable for its critical analysis of an alleged regulatory capture attempt performed by the Hollywood film lobby to leverage economic sanctions by the United States government on Sweden through the WTO. Evidence is presented of pressure applied through Swedish courts on Swedish police to conducting a search and seizure against The Pirate Bay to disrupt its BitTorrent tracker service, in contravention of Swedish law.
The Guardian’s James Flint called Part One “at heart a traditionally structured ‘talking heads’ documentary” with “amusing stylings” from film-makers who “practice what they preach.” It also screened at the British Film Institute and numerous independent international events, and was a talking point in 2007’s British Documentary Film Festival. In January 2008 it was featured on BBC Radio 4’s Today, in a discussion piece which explored the implications of P2P for traditional media.Material found in Steal This Film includes the music of Can, tracks “Thief” and “She Brings the Rain”; clips from other documentary interviews with industry and governmental officials; several industry anti-piracy promotionals; logos from several major Hollywood studios, and sequences from The Day After Tomorrow, The Matrix, Zabriskie Point, and They Live. The use of these short clips is believed to constitute fair use.
Material found in Steal This Film includes the music of Can, tracks “Thief” and “She Brings the Rain”; clips from other documentary interviews with industry and governmental officials; several industry anti-piracy promotionals; logos from several major Hollywood studios, and sequences from The Day After Tomorrow, The Matrix, Zabriskie Point, and They Live. The use of these short clips is believed to constitute fair use.
Steal This Film (Part 2) (sometimes subtitled ‘The Dissolving Fortress’) was produced during 2007. It premiered (in a preliminary version) at a conference entitled “The Oil of the 21st Century – Perspectives on Intellectual Property” in Berlin, Germany, November 2007.
Thematically, Part 2 “examines 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.” It discusses Mark Getty’s assertion that ‘intellectual property is the oil of the 21st century’. Part 2 draws parallels between the impact of the printing press and the internet in terms of making information accessible beyond a privileged group or “controllers”. The argument is made that the decentralised nature of the internet makes the enforcement of conventional copyright impossible. Adding to this the internet turns consumers into producers, by way of user generated content, leading to the sharing, mashup and creation of content not motivated by financial gains. This has fundamental implications for market-based media companies. The documentary asks “How will society change” and states “This is the Future – And it has nothing to do with your bank balance”.
Boing Boing’s Cory Doctorow called it ‘an amazing, funny, enraging and inspiring documentary series’, and Part II “even better than part I.”