Aaron Swartz’s belief in the free spread of information landed him in jail. The people who want to watch a movie about his life will face no such legal problems.
Anyone who buys the movie via Vimeo will also be able to download it and share it for free. Vimeo is putting up a DRM-free version of the movie that comes with a Creative Commons License.
Creative Commons, which Swartz helped build, offers public copyright licenses that facilitate the easier spread of an artist or intellectual’s work and indemnifies people from prosecution for piracy. People who buy the movie starting June 27 via Vimeo cannot resell their movie, but they will be able to download it and share it with friends.
This type of distribution is unusual for a movie, but it satisfies the wish of director Brian Knappenberger and gels with the ideals of Swartz, who co-founded Reddit and later turned into a prominent Internet activist. His lax beliefs with regard to intellectual property landed him in hot water.
“I was really dedicated to having a version of the film VOD day and date, accessible to people as soon as possible with creative commons license” Knappenberger told TheWrap. “Vimeo found a way for us to do that.”
The movie will still receive a traditional theatrical distribtion. FilmBuff will release it June 27 with support from Participant Media, which will also air the movie on its TV network Pivot later this year.
Yet whereas distributors typically acquire the rights, Participant and FilmBuff have licensed the movie. Participant, which has financed socially conscious work such as “Promised Land,” “An Inconvenient Truth” and “Food Inc.,” is the rare partner that would accept such terms. It will also mount a campaign to raise awareness about poor oversight in the U.S. justice system given what many view as unfair treatment of Swartz.
Knappenberger has told TheWrap a few times that he turned down big money at the Sundance Film Festival, where the movie premiered.
“The Internet’s Own Boy” will be available on Vimeo, iTunes and other video-on-demand platforms the same day it opens in theaters, a release method known as day-and-date. Vimeo is the only place you will be able to buy the movie for the first month it is out, at a price of $9.99. You can rent it on those other sites, and then buy it after that first month.
Curious? Watch the movie’s trailer below.