Stream (Or Steal) This Documentary About Digital Piracy

Last week, a documentary about the legal woes of the file-sharing site The Pirate Bay, premiered at the German Berlinale film festival. Did you miss it? No worries. The director released the entire stream of [TPB AFK (The Pirate Bay, Away From Keyboard)]( on YouTube and even posted downloadable versions right on The Pirate Bay.

The movie follows the founders of The Pirate Bay through disputes in Sweden and the U.S. and, eventually, a much-publicized conviction in Sweden. As the most visible file-sharing site around, it’s been the focus of multiple copyright infringement suits, including civil suits from the music and film industry and criminal suits from the Swedish government. It has drawn as much ire from industry executives as it has devotion from fellow pirates. Many countries have gone as far as directly blocking access to the site.

It took some work to get that infamous: The title is a sly wink at the creators’ feelings about their presence in the real world. They use the term “AFK,” or “away from keyboard,” instead of IRL, “in real life,” because computer work is real life to them. So TPB AFK, presumably, is a look at the creators when they’re away from their computers.

TPB AFK‘s director, Simon Klose, has said the film is not just a look at one site, but a call for copyright reform in general. So it makes sense he’d want to release the film through some unconventional channels. Heck, it’d be hypocritical if he didn’t release it that way.

This might eventually be a good case study on the piracy-hurts-sales argument, too. Will Klose and the rest of the filmmakers take a hit in sales by giving away the documentary for free through so many channels? Can piracy coexist with traditional means of purchase? Is pay-if-you-want viable?

Hopefully we’ll get a making-of addition next.