Michael Moore Admits He Doesn't Care About International Downloads, But He Has To Pretend To

from the download-away dept

We were a bit surprised recently when the news came out that lawyers representing Michael Moore were making the rounds concerning international downloads of his latest documentary, Slacker Uprising. Moore had decided to give the movie away free online, and given his past statements about having no problem with folks sharing a movie online, it seemed out of place to complain about any sharing that didn’t just happen in the US and Canada.

Now it appears that Moore himself has taken the initiative to explain, and the answer is effectively that he doesn’t care — but he has to pretend to, because he only holds the rights for the US and Canada. In a note to the site TorrentFreak, he wrote:

“What do you think I’m up to? I know it may not be obvious to most, but I think you guys get it. I only own the US and Canadian rights. So my hands are tied. But this is the 21st century. What are ‘geographical rights’?”

He then went on to point to the silliness of trying to prevent fans from sharing a movie:

“I’ll say it for the hundredth time: If I buy a book and read it, and then give you the book to read, I have broken no laws. Why is that not true for all media?”

I’m not always a fan of his movies (though I do find them entertaining), but it’s nice to see another moviemaker recognizing how counterproductive it is to try to stop file sharing, when embracing it has many more benefits.

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Comments on “Michael Moore Admits He Doesn't Care About International Downloads, But He Has To Pretend To”

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Yon says:

that's flawed thinking

If you give away a book, you are giving away your only copy. If you give away a copy of a CD or upload a copy of your CD, and keep your original, that’s the problem. I don’t really care about uploads or downlaods anymore, because I think RIAA’s tactics are extremely heavy handed, but flawed logic is flawed logic.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: that's flawed thinking

Well think about it some more. If I read a book and give it to you to read and you read it and I want to read it again so you give it back and so on and so on…

How is that really different than downloading a PDF file of the book and reading it when you feel like? Either way, depending on who you are you aren’t paying for the benefit of reading it.

The only time its different for practical purposes is if you BOTH are reading it at the same time.

Sopor42 says:

Yon's got it!

Thanks Yon, I’m glad I’m not the only one that caught that. Come on Michael (Masnick), don’t support bunk examples/arguments like that to prove your points, you’re only clouding the issue!

A book is a finite, tangible good. It took the printer, publisher, distributor, retailer etc time and resources to print/sell that EXACT copy that you now hold. When you give it away, you no longer have a copy to read yourself (regardless of the fact that all the data is theoretically in your brain).

Don’t confuse this with digital media. Digital media costs no resources (short of some electricity) to copy. Taking an avi file and making 1,000,000 copies is no more resource intensive than making one copy. Giving a copy of that avi file away does not restrict my ability to watch the movie. And lastly, once the original movie is created and stored digitally, it does NOT require a printer, publisher, distributor, and retailer to get the copies out. All it takes is a download link.

I’m all for free and open distribution of digital books! But I would never use this example to support my argument, it’s just going to confuse people!

eleete (user link) says:

Re: Yon's got it!

Hate to rain on your parade, but what about libraries. Understanding your point about creating a copy to distribute and all…. I don’t need a friend to loan me a single book, and I can have full benefit of publisher, printer and distribution. They also carry Videos and CDs. I’ve ‘borrowed’ many, and many have borrowed many. All over the U.S. and beyond. Wonder how much those authors and producers made off those ‘borrowings’. If I did anything illegal, contact Congress, they seem to like that concept. Except when creating these BS laws for US.

Sopor42 says:

Re: Re: Yon's got it!

Nope, you’re not doing anything illegal at all, and I sure never said you were! And you’re also not “raining” on my parade. In fact if you look closely at your argument, you’ll see that you are in fact agreeing with me.

Bottom line? You have to return that book to the library, you only borrowed it; you do not get to keep a copy of it yourself.

If I get a pdf ebook, I can make a copy for you, and we both have a copy, and so on. That’s the difference, we both get to keep a copy of the good! That’s why using an example of a TANGIBLE good to argue against copyright on DIGITAL goods should be an obvious non-sequitor!

I am NOT arguing for or against copyright, I am NOT telling anybody that copying is right or wrong (just that I am for it). I am ONLY indicating that trying to use the example of a printed and bound book to support and argument against digital copyright is only going to confuse the issue! Obviously I was right.

“If I buy a book and read it, and then give you the book to read, I have broken no laws. Why is that not true for all media?” Because, Mr Moore, when you give the book away you don’t have a copy to read anymore!

Sopor42 says:

Ahh, but to the point

But on topic, let me add… Cheers to Michael Moore! Personally I have not been a big fan of his art, but I love to see him shooting straight and telling it how it is! It’s about time that people realize that it is not as often as we think the artist that is being anal about copyright restrictions, it’s the publisher, or record label, or what have you!

josh benshoof says:


Fighting file sharing is counterproductive. I remember back when i used napster, I would download bands that i had heard of but never actualy heard. If i liked them i would go out and buy their album. It is a good way to get bands heard. When I heard that one of my favorite bands and a huge band who had plenty of money and fans I swore to never by another album of thiers. I will no longer even listen to them. That band was Metallica. I guess i need to watch out I forgot to ask them if I could use their name, now i might get sued.

Allen (profile) says:


The question that I had over this was how were the rights outside of the US and Canada acquired?

Through ignorance/stupidity (duh what? the internet is global now?) those rights were devalued. By disclaiming all responsibility to placate an audience he’s effectively saying caveat emptor to whoever holds them now and assuming some cash was involved, he just became an example subject for one of his own documentaries.

KJ says:

I haven’t finished watching this film yet, but what I’ve seen so far is that it’s documentation of a bunch of rallies that were held across the US. I’m assuming that people payed to get into those rallies, and ergo…funded this film.

This film is interesting to watch (the performance by Eddy Vedder of a Cat Stevens Song is worth the time to download it.) It certainly isn’t in the same league as bowling for Columbine. I would say it’s an interesting message as you (I live in Canada) get closer to the election and an advertisement for MM.

Anonymous Coward says:

Moore is ole school

Mike Moore was stealing (infringing on) peoples protected work and giving away content for free since long before it became cool in the valley. Love him or hate him, he was at the forefront of the modern content creators who began to lean towards these positions in the 60s and 70s (before there was a Techdirt, before there was an internet).

Anonymous Coward says:

“I’m not always a fan of his movies (though I do find them entertaining), but it’s nice to see another moviemaker recognizing how counterproductive it is to try to stop file sharing, when embracing it has many more benefits.”

I would have to say that Michael Moore has not come around to the techdirt position, Techdirt was founded on Michael Moores position.

Serge says:

Why did Michael Moore sell the internat'l rights, then??

This article fails to report on the basic point of the story and, indeed, the most relevant aspect to understanding how copyright works. Why is it that Michael Moore has to “pretend”?

In other words, how come Moore owns only the U.S. and Canadian rights to his own movie? To whom did he sell the other rights, and was that sell premised on a promise that Michael Moore made but now prefers not to keep? If he had no intention of keeping the promise, why did he go ahead and make it anyway?

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