When filmmaker Michael Moore announced that his new movie Slacker Uprising would be released exclusively online, he not only refused to charge for it, but encouraged his fans to feel free to pirate it. In fact, he told them to “email it, burn it, and share it with anyone and everyone.” Unfortunately, those were just words. Words he said and didn’t mean.

Apparently he’s only ok with people sharing it, as long as they only share it with Americans or Canadians. A lot people missed that, and it’s understandable. The content of his message makes it sound like he’s generously setting it free to the entire world. But in parentheses after telling everyone in his press release to share his movie he says, “(in the U.S. and Canada only)”. And he meant it. According to TorrentFreak, Westside Productions LLC, copyright holder on Slacker Uprising, is sending out lawyers armed with cease and desist orders to shut down people sharing his movie outside the US and Canada on what some call the “World Wide Web”.

Evidently Michael Moore isn’t familiar with the concept of the internet. See Michael, the great thing about it, is that it goes everywhere. All over the entire world. Not just the United States and Canada. So when you invite people to share your movie freely and they do so by putting it online; then that means, unless the person sharing it is an asshole with the know how necessary to foolishly restrict the traffic flow to their website based on national boundaries, it goes everywhere. Moore had to know this when he told people to share his movie, and the fact that he’s now running around keeping people from sharing it, basically makes his entire offer null and void.

Region specific restrictions on the internet are absolutely ridiculous. It’s kind of like its own form of reverse censorship and it’s a growing fad among big corporations and apparently, overweight indie filmmakers. I understand why big corporations do it, it’s all about tailoring their traffic to specific forms of advertising. I still hate it, but I at least understand why they do it. I have no idea however, what Moore could possibly have to gain from it, unless he actually set out to look like a gigantic, disingenuous, hypocrite who is no different than the big, send in the lawyers, corporations he rails against.

UPDATE! So we have a little more information on why this mess is happening. It looks like Moore doesn't own the international rights to the movie, and apparently though he's ok with giving it away for free, the movie's international rights holders are not. Unfortunately, the problem remains... the internet goes everywhere. It doesn't care about which rights holder owns what. By telling people to share his movie, Moore has now gotten them in trouble. Thanks Mike. Maybe some day copyright law will actually catch up to reality.

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