Fahrenheit 9-/11 distribution – so what happened?

This post was written by marc on December 17, 2004
Posted Under: Politics

Below is an article about an interview I did for The Independent as I was distributing Fahrenheit 9/11 before the election. People were wondering about copyrights and if I was going to get sued. But like I said – it would never happen – and it didn’t.

As it turn out it was like I said. Michael Moore said I could distribute it for free on the Internet and he meant it. At no time have I been contacted in any way about my distribution. Not even a polite request to take it down.

It just goes to show you the Michael Moore is a man of his word and he was being generous and I thank him for his generocity.

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Marc Perkel is spending US$2000 in the hope of ensuring the result of next week’s presidential election.

Not by buying expensive TV adverts (something that would cost much more than US$2000) but by offering Michael Moore’s film Fahrenheit 9/11 for free download from his site, in the hope that watching it will encourage people to vote against George W. Bush.

And at least half of his hope has been fulfilled: thousands of people have downloaded the film from his site, in a format that can be watched on a computer.

Yet despite offering a box-office hit backed by heavyweight producers such as Harvey Weinstein, available for free over the Net, Mr Perkel, of San Bruno in California, does not fear being sued, as one would normally expect.

Instead, he insists that “Michael Moore wants me to distribute this” – although he also admits Mr Moore has not spoken to him specifically.

The US$2000 is the cost of one month’s high-speed internet access to his web site where the digital versions of the film are stored – and if download numbers are any guide, he has found a receptive audience.

Since he put the films online, more than 300,000 people have downloaded them, in full or in part.

The film has become famous for its criticism of President Bush’s handling of the threat from terrorists before September 2001, and for his policies afterwards.

That inspired Mr Perkel to make a digital copy of the film, and offer it for free so others would see it: “This election is extremely important to the future of the planet,” he told The Independent.

“If I can make a difference, it’s worth US$2000 to make that happen.

According to my [site] logs – which I don’t trust because I don’t think it can distinguish failed attempts – it has been downloaded 337,756 times.

But I don’t count downloads – I count votes.

How many voters are converted [by seeing the film] or how many people are motivated to actually vote? That’s the score that counts to me.

I am trying to prevent World War 3 and possibly the fall of civilisation.”What’s more, Mr Perkel says he has the tacit backing of Mr Moore for his venture.

“Michael Moore has made public statements encouraging people to download it and to distribute it over the internet for free.

At no time have I seen any public statements from a copyright holder to the contrary,” Mr Perkel told the Independent.

Indeed, Mr Moore said in July: “I don’t agree with the copyright laws and I don’t have a problem with people downloading the movie and sharing it with people as long as they’re not trying to make a profit off my labour.

I would oppose that.”The distributors of the film in the US, Lion’s Gate, had no comment yesterday on Mr Perkel’s actions.

Mr Perkel commented: “Even if I were sued, which I really don’t think will happen, I am extremely legal savvy and I am not [rich].

And I would [demand the appearance of] Michael Moore as a defendant for misleading me into believing I had permission to distribute it.

So – under these conditions – a copyright suit won’t happen.”

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