Browsing the webs as I tend to do most of the time, I came across the Pirate Bay documentary that had been released a while ago, which up until now didn’t bother to see it. Bored at home and nothing to do, I decided i might as well see it finally. Scouring through the Pirate Bay (yes I have been to the site), I found a nice quality version and downloaded it to my computer, as the creators had intended. This film hooked me, from the opening scene, with the guys packing up their hardware and moving, before being put on trial.
First off though, let me give a brief history of the site. The Pirate Bay is a peer-to-peer file sharing site started by three men: Gottfried Svartholm Warg (a scary looking lad with a badass beard); Fredrik Neij (a programmer who loves the booze as much as coding); and the spokesperson for the site, Peter Sunde (either he never sleeps or dabbles in the drugs). These three men started the site back in 2003, and solely operated what would become the largest file sharing site on the planet. Because of what their site is and who uploads (putting content on the site) the various things, they are being targeted by the biggest industries in the world from the music industry to the movie industry. Companies after companies what their heads on spikes, and three seemed baffled by this.
Watching this film, it shows us who these men are: not evil people purposefully trying to bring down corporations; just 3 nerds who wanted a site for people to share stuff with each other, and who like programming. I use nerd in a good sense of the word. For example, the beginning of the film is the beginning of the trial, and the three me are being questioned. Peter is asked, “when was the firs time you met IRL” with IRL meaning in real life. He responds with, “we don’t use the expression IRL. We say AFK. But that’s another issue.” AFK for those unaware means Away From Keyboard. Another example is a little bit later, the three are standing outside of some building in the morning, and they are joking around how the prosecutor mixed up the terms bits and bytes. Its little nerdy things like that which i feel show their character and who they are.
What i love about this documentary is that for once, the viewer is shown the other side of the equation. In the mass media, we seem to only get the movie industry side of the argument over the issue of the pirate bay and piracy; but here we see the side of three men fighting to stay out of jail for a crime they feel they did not commit (and i don’t believe they did either).
It sickened me yet somehow made me totally not shocked how the courts of Sweden seems to work the same as ones in America: a system ruled by the idea that you’re automatically guilty until proved innocent. It’s because of that attitude, that i wasn’t shocked by the verdict in the trial, just disappointed.
Another striking thing is not just a film about three men on trial but of a trial about the freedom of the internet. It was professor (and self professed old man) Roger Wallis, who gave the best quote in regards over the issue of Copyrights. He said, “I support copyright, but only if it encourages creativity- or economic enticement or an incentive to create. Not the way copyright is now, as a huge control mechanism – for people who sit on large swathes of rights.” Those words speak for themselves, and it is true that copyrights and trademarks and the patent system is absolutely out of whack and needs fixing.
The whole film delves through the long process, the agonizing process of trial, up until the final verdict, landing the men in jail. The courts had sentenced the key programmer Frederik to 10 months, and the key spokesman Peter who received 8 month, with a fine of $6.6 million. The third man Gottfried had fleed the country and was in Madagascar, when authorities had caught him and sent him back to Sweden, where he was charged with various other hacking crimes.
Were the three men right or wrong? Should they be punished for other people posting on their site? Well that’s really up to your beliefs. I personally don’t think they should be the ones punished. I see torrent sites such as the pirate bay like rental sites. You go on there, search for a movie or music you want to try out to see if you like it. If you do, great, go out and buy that film or CD. Is it all like this? No, of course not. But in a time when the economy is still in the toilet, people have harder times finding jobs, and when they do manage to find them, spend it all on living expenses, they a lot of the times might not have those extra funds to watch a film. So when you expect people to spend 20 dollars, 30 dollars on a movie they might have not seen, and might not like, well they are less likely to. Sure there are rental services like Redbox or Netflix, but they don’t always have what someone is looking for. This is just me though. Let me know what you think of the film, and/or of your opinion on the subject in the comments below.
All in all, this film was really well done I thought. The sound quality was superb, the video superb, the writing and direction of the film were really good. The way this film was shot like a crime thriller suspenseful movie, keeping me engaged throughout the whole film. If you are interested in this topic of file sharing and it’s place in the world, or want to study up more on it, I would wholeheartedly recommend this film.
If you want to watch it, you can find it on, well I guess it’d be obvious, The Pirate Bay. While this blog doesn’t condone anyone stealing movies or music, this is one film that was meant to be watched in the living room or on your computer or portable device, downloaded from such a file sharing site. Yet for those who don’t want to go to such a site, or don’t know how to download from a file-sharing site, you can find the movie below, courtesy of youtube.