I have a couple of suggestions for anyone keen to put on video screenings. A couple of docos that haven’t been shown publicly in Aotearoa yet, that I know of.
(Part II is probably the stronger, and more polished of the two)
These films are about “intellectual property”, the right to copy, and the impact these things have on freedom of speech, freedom of gift exchange, and people’s ability to freely participate in the evolution of digital culture. Putting toll gates on the exchange of articles of knowledge, and cultural artifacts, hampers the free cross-pollination of ideas that could lead to radical solutions to the problems that face humanity today - state-corporate domination, peak oil, climate change etc
Worse, it concentrates the ownerships of knowledge, and the right to disseminate it, in the hands of elites, like those that run corporations, and nation-states - elites whose personal, short-term interests are diametrically opposed to the long-term interests of the majority of the world’s people. The last period of history in which an empire of co-operating elites controlled people’s access to knowledge was called the Dark Ages, and that empire was called Christianity. It’s “intellectual property” enforcers were called the Inquisition, and those who pursued unapproved research, or shared knowledge with the working people were imprisoned, tortured, and killed as heretics.
One tool that made a major contribution to the ending of the dark ages, and the spreading of skills like literacy, and numeracy, among people of all ages and classes, was the printing press. The ability to rapidly copy existing written works, and distribute copies to many people, was a critical part of the enlightenment, and the renaissance, that followed.
In our own age, the technologies of the internet are playing a similar role, allowing the infinite copying and redistribution of works of knowledge and culture. But the elite who have benefited from withholding the right to copy are not going to give up their privilege without a fight. Currently this is taking the form of international legal tools like the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, and intra-national regulations like the Australian governments new ISP-level internet filtering. Recent amendments to the NZ governments Copyright Act oblige ISPs to spy on their customers, or risk being help responsible for “theft of intellectual property” they might carry out.
These documentaries explore these issues, and look at systems like CreativeCommons which propose alternatives based on fair agreements between authors and their audiences. I encourage you to check them out, show them to other people, make copies, and pass them around, so the ideas they illustrate can become part of a broad public debate around these issues. Not only because that’s what it creators would want, but because you have a right, and arguably a moral duty, to share something that costs you nothing to replicate with your neighbour.
Hei kōnei rā