Awesome Stuff: Films About Things Techdirt Talks About

from the check-it-out dept

For this week’s awesome stuff post, we’ve got links to movies about things that we regularly talk about here on Techdirt: the prosecution of Aaron Swartz, the CFAA, patents and piracy.

  • First up, is a documentary about Aaron Swartz called The Internet’s Own Boy by Brian Knappenberger, who previously did a documentary about Anonymous. Knappenberger’s film isn’t a “memorial” about Swartz, but rather an “investigative” documentary about his story and the lawsuit against him, as well as the legal structure that led to his arrest and trial. The video that Knappenberger has put together is really compelling and touching:
    This project has received a lot of attention, so there’s no surprise that it’s quite close to its $75,000 target with a few weeks to go. It looks like it should be a great project to support.
  • From once CFAA case to another. Krystof Andres & George Russell are doing a documentary called The Hedgehog & The Hare, all about the CFAA, but mainly focused on the case against Andrew “Weev” Auernheimer. The documentary will also explore how the CFAA goes way too far in trying to criminalize perfectly reasonable computer activities.
    The target for this project had much more modest goals than the Swartz one, though the production values definitely look a bit more amateurish. Plus, frankly, the rewards on the Swartz movie are a lot more reasonable. That said, with just a few days left, it looks like this movie is likely to squeak by the target even if it’s just slightly under as I write this.
  • This next one, I’m a bit less sure about, but the topic could be interesting. It’s supposedly a short film, made in South Africa about the big pharmaceutical makers going after generic drug makers, called The Cure. What makes me a bit unsure about is that the filmmakers, Katey Carson and Errol Schwartz, seem a hell of a lot more excited about the fact that (a) they signed up some “Oscar-winning talent” to be in the film and (b) that they’re filming the whole thing with an iPhone, than they are about the story, which they barely mention at all. The topic sounds interesting. I just wish they’d actually have said something about that, rather than the other stuff which really isn’t that interesting.
    The project has barely raised any money, and they’re pretty ambitious to seek $35,000 for this. But since it’s an Indiegogo “flex funding” campaign, they’ll get the money even if they don’t raise the full amount. Also, the “rewards” you get back seem ridiculously high priced. You have to pay $100 just to get a download of the short film and $50 for the script? Hmmm. Love the idea of a film that highlights problems with drug patents, but not sure this is the best way to do it.
  • And, finally, a documentary about piracy. I mean that’s what critics insist this site is all about, right? So I figured, why not. Here’s a documentary film about a Somali pirate — you know, one who actually hijacked a ship, called The Smiling Pirate, which aims to tell the story of the one remaining living member of the pirates who hijacked the Maersk Alabama. As the story suggests, despite a forthcoming Tom Hanks movie about this whole thing, there appear to be a lot more questions than answers about what really happened both aboard the ship and then with the captured pirate after the whole thing happened.
    Sounds like an interesting story, but it hasn’t picked up very many backers yet. It’s also an Indiegogo flexible funding project, so will receive any money it raises, but it’s not clear if it’ll get enough to really support the making of the documentary any time soon.

That’s it for this week. Next week we’ll be back with more awesome stuff.

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Comments on “Awesome Stuff: Films About Things Techdirt Talks About”

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Anonymous Coward says:

The documentary will also explore how the CFAA goes way too far in trying to criminalize perfectly reasonable computer activities.

You mean like your silly argument that President Clinton violated the CFAA for, um, maybe possibly tweeting from an account that he didn’t set up? LOL! But, of course, Swartz, who willfully violated the CFAA, didn’t do anything wrong.

Tweeting = federal criminal hacking. Actual federal criminal hacking = nothing to see here! Great stuff, Mike. Why wouldn’t anybody take you seriously? You’re such a reasonable person who brings such a balanced view to the table. Well, you’re not really. But you could be if you wanted to. Why don’t you want to?

I don’t get why a guy as smart as you is such a reactionary doofus. I really, honestly don’t get it. You should try being down to earth and discussing things openly and honestly. It might take you farther than you think. Until then, I guess I’ll just keep pluggin’ away in the comments. Oh well.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

That’s easy. Read what Prof. Kerr (a leading expert in the field who literally wrote the book about the CFAA) wrote about it:

Or you can read the superseding indictment:

Funny how you want me to prove that Swartz violated the CFAA, but you don’t ask Mike to explain his totally brain-dead FUD piece about how Colbert and Clinton violated the CFAA:

Mike accuses them of violating the CFAA without even beginning to make out an argument as to how, but TO THIS DAY, Mike refuses to admit even the possibility that Swartz did something wrong.

The dishonest double-standard is totally fucking epic. It’s “we’re all violating the CFAA just by doing basic stuff!” when he wants everyone to be scared of the CFAA, and it’s “no violation here!” when it’s Swartz.

Mike couldn’t be honest about this stuff if his life depended on it. And his dishonesty is proved by his complete unwillingness to even discuss any of it.

I fucking dare Mike to explain himself. He won’t. Because he’s a manipulative, compulsive liar.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

What’s the point of civility at this point? Mike has proved beyond a reasonable doubt hundreds of times over that he’s just a silly extremist and alarmist who cares not about reality. He’s published more words about Swartz than any other person on earth, yet he’s completely unwilling to discuss any of it on the merits or to even admit that Swartz did the least bit thing wrong. I don’t think the personal attacks are moronic. I think his zealotry is moronic. Why’s he so scared of calming down and discussing these important issues without resorting to alarmist rhetoric? Why won’t he back up what he says? He doesn’t care about truth. He only cares about manipulating people.

CK20XX (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

You confuse the existence of a double standard with showing multiple viewpoints.

The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act is a bad law that was not created with sufficient knowledge of what computer fraud is, or even what it should be. In a decent, loving world, Aaron Swartz wouldn’t have run afoul of it; it’s not supposed to be used to target researchers or activists like him, yet it was. That’s why people say he didn’t violate it; if you have any idea what fraud is in the first place, you know Aaron wasn’t engaging in it.

But you can also look at the law ironically, according to how we all know the people writing these laws are hoping to use them, because at its heart this debacle isn’t about a law someone broke. This is about power and those who use and abuse it. Going by how we can safely assume the CFAA shall be wielded in the future, we are all violators of it. We all know the law isn’t going to be used to protect people from computer fraud, but to use the fear of felony charges to keep citizens in lock-step. In that case, did Aaron Swartz violate the CFAA? Yes, because it’s a bad law that shouldn’t exist in the first place.

That’s why if you say that Swartz didn’t violate the law, you’re right. If you say he did violate the law, you’re also right. Some things in life are like that, where both main perspectives have a good amount of truth to them.

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