Nasty Old People and a CC Licence

On: September 9, 2010
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About Joris Pekel
I’m a MA. New Media student at the University of Amsterdam. In november 2009 I graduated as a bachelor theater, film and televisionstudies at the University of Utrecht. After that I started an internship at Kennisland where I worked on a project called Images for the Future. My main interests go to: Social media and how they can or can’t be useful, online copyright, Creative Commons and privacy issues. Other than that I’m an improv-theater actor and music lover (check out my famous Dutch eclectic-farmerband “Skitterend Mooi!”)


Sweden is famous for lots of reasons. Like for their food, their furniture and their women. They are also known as the biggest pirates in the world. Not on the open sea, but online. The Swedish Piratebay is one of the most used and one of the most attacked websites in the world. They were also the first country with their own political pirate party, which ‘has goals of raising awareness of, spreading and unifying the pirate movement through coordination, information-sharing, and assisting in the foundation of new pirate parties

By the end of 2009, the Swedish had another premiere. They were the first to release a movie under the Creative Commons licence, as created by Lawrence Lessig, on the Piratebay. The movie ‘Nasty Old People’ was funded by a loan of 10000 euro’s by the bank. Now, one year later, they managed to pay off their loan.

How did this happen? They never sold the movie anywhere. They just threw it online and people could copy, share and remix their film all they wanted, they only had to mention the  people that have produced this movie by adding their website. When the movie was released people immediately started watching and sharing it. Because of this uncontrolled online distribution, the costs of it were dramatically decreased and it could reach for a far wider audience. The internet community responded by giving exposure to the movie through twitter and blogs. They also started adding things like subtitles and remixes. The creators never asked anybody for money. They just put a Pay-Pall button on their website and waited.

Releasing this film under a Creative Commons licence not only got them out of their debts, it also had the effect that more people watched the movie then was ever possible under a normal copyright licence. Would I have ever seen the movie without this open licence? Probably not. I don’t have any special interest in Swedish films and the movie did not have any money for promotion. It was a tweet that caught my interest. I also really, really needed the subtitles created by a Dutch user.

The big movie industries hate websites like the Piratebay and other file sharing websites. In their opinion they are destroying the movie industry and they will do anything to shut these websites down or to charge individual users. But the fact is, the file sharing sites are  here, and they are here to stay, so better make use of them.  Nasty Old People shows us how free culture (also a book title from Lessig) can flourish and create both large interest and money.

The current copyright system where nobody can share, copy or remix any work from another author is completely outdated in the current internet society. Authors can’t publicly show their content online to get attention and without even noticing it, we all make thousands of copyright infringements a day. The Creative Commons license gives the author the opportunity to decide for themselves what the user can or can not do with his work and therefore a workable situation for everybody.

I won’t say that Creative Commons is the solution for everything, but Nasty Old People is one of many examples that shows us that it is time to rethink the current copyright situation to take full benefits of the opportunities the internet is giving us.

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