Should Al Gore put “An Inconvenient Truth” up on BitTorrent?

Michael Eakes, a Tech blogger wrote to Al Gore asking him to release his movie “An Inconvenient Truth” via BitTorrent.

In an interesting nod to just how BitTorrent can change the status quo of distribution models and methods, Michael Eakes, a Web 2.0 blogger, has written a letter to Al Gore, the former 2-term Vice-President and 2000 Presidential candidate, asking him to release his movie “An Inconvenient Truth” using P2P technology like BitTorrent.

Controversy surrounding the “truth” of “An Inconvenient Truth” aside, the real importance of this request is how it could shape up to be another potentially groundbreaking instance in which people have chosen to put socially important works in the hands of a worldwide audience at little or no cost to themselves.

BitTorrent and other P2P networks have the potential to distribute more than mere TV shows, music, movies, etc.. They can also be used for the much nobler purpose of spreading socially important ideas and messages that otherwise many people may never hear or have difficulty in finding themselves.

The possibilities are endless.

The previous example of such an occurrence was with the documentary “The Corporation,” in which the directors felt that the movie’s message was so important that it needed to be heard by all despite any misgivings about undermining the ability to recoup production costs.

Winner of 24 International Awards, 10 of them Audience Choice Awards including the Audience Award for Documentary in World Cinema at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival, the movie is poignant look at how just how much corporations have come to control so many parts of our lives and society.

Mark Achbar, one of the “The Corporation’s” directors, hoped that by releasing the documentary on BitTorrent it would help to create more arranges of the film and its message. Achbar even went so far as to dedicate a PC in his garage with the sole purpose of seeding the torrent tracker for the film.

Achbar noted:

“Our mission is to bring films to audiences, audiences to action and action to outcome. We know that millions of people have seen and been moved by The Corporation. We’d like to build on this momentum…”

On his blog, Michael Eakes notes that Al Gore and his fellow producers have made grass-roots strides towards getting the message of “An Inconvenient Truth” out there but, that it is not enough.

I’ve also read that he had offered some 50,000 copies of the movie for distribution to teachers and educators across the country but, that his offer was rebuffed due to “political” concerns by the National Science Teachers Association.

Again, whether you agree with the message of “An Inconvenient Truth” or not isn’t what’s important here. What is important is what this means for other socially conscious works and creations. There is a developing awareness that BitTorrent and other P2P networks are the perfect tools to spread ideas and messages quickly, cheaply, and effortlessly. This is the real importance of this development.

As Eakes notes:

If the warnings in the film are correct, they are too important to be delayed by traditional and inefficient distribution methods. The current fee and copy protection are inappropriate. The film should be free (as in beer).

In this world of increasing new mechanisms to purchase movies and other content legally online, like BitTorrent Inc.’s new P2P distribution deal for instance, is it not reasonable to suggest that it could also be used to distribute socially conscious works for FREE as well? In doing so, and then by advertising its legality, you can spread the message to other users who might otherwise be fearful of using BitTorrent or other P2P networks because of much publicized lawsuits and legal troubles.

Making socially conscious works available on P2P networks legally means an increased audience and an increase in the degree and depth that a message can be spread.

Now whether Al Gore agrees to do this or not is as yet undetermined but, I can’t fathom why he would not. Certainly if the message is as important as he says it is then it shouldn’t be muffled by dollar signs. Free shouldn’t be “inconvenient.”