‘TPB AFK: The Pirate Bay Away From Keyboard’ is a behind-the-scenes look at the controversial court case that explores the issues a new generation of media consumers and questions how governments should deal with copyright in the Internet age.
Issues of copyright infringement were brought to the forefront when Napster was taken to court and subsequently shutdown. Other file sharing sites emerged in its place, including The Pirate Bay. In 2009, the three men responsible for the website were prosecuted in Sweden under copyright law. TPB AFK: The Pirate Bay Away From Keyboard documents the trial and introduces the world to the three distinct personalities behind the largest peer-to-peer website in the world.
Fredrik Neij is the IT wizard, maintaining the physical hardware required to run the website. Gottfrid Svartholm is the "computer genius" who designed the file sharing site. And Peter Sunde is The Pirate Bay's spokesperson, joining the team when it became apparent the website needed a public face.
The trial takes place over many days in which the trio is questioned about their involvement with the website and their responses to cease and desist orders. The line they all walk is simple: they built the file sharing website but each individual is responsible for the files they upload; therefore complaints should be placed against the user, not the provider - they are not responsible for content.
Between appearances in court, the co-defendants vent their frustration with the system. They laugh at the judicial process and are certain they will not be found guilty. They often deflect questions and mock the court's attempt to use tech speak.
Personally they are each a bit eccentric, though Gottfrid is probably the most unique. In addition to creating a "sarcastic" website about the deaths of soldiers, he is a primary contributor to WikiLeaks working with Julian Assange. As soon as the trial is over, he jumps onto a plane to Cambodia. Similarly, Fredrik can't wait to return to Laos where his fiance waits for him. Peter appears to be the most level-headed, which explains his role in TPB.
Filmed entirely from one perspective, this is not meant to be a democratic documentary. The side of the prosecutors and Hollywood are not presented unless they are saying something that makes their argument seem ridiculous or petty. Nonetheless, it appears professional and presents a thorough argument.
TPB AFK: The Pirate Bay Away From Keyboard is screening during Hot Docs, the largest documentary film festival in North America, which runs April 25 to May 5 in Toronto.