Just An Online Minute... Michael Moore: Online Movie 'Sharing' Attracts More Viewers

Michael Moore's new movie, "Sicko," opens in 40 theaters across the country today -- one week ahead of schedule -- thanks in part to YouTube. After a pirated copy surfaced on the video-sharing site last weekend, distributors decided to move up the release date.

While YouTube took down the clips -- 14 total, each of which was viewed more than 500 times before being removed -- Moore himself is no hurry to condemn the site. In fact, he's indicated the extra exposure can only help by generating interest in the movie.

"I'm just happy that people get to see my movies," the filmmaker said, according to press reports. "I don't understand bands or filmmakers or whatever who oppose sharing, having their work be shared with people, because I think it only increases your fanbase."

While big media companies like Viacom apparently disagree, the facts seem to be on Moore's side here. Consider, even though pirated copies of his 2004 film "Fahrenheit 9/11" were widely distributed, the film went on to earn more than $100 million, setting box office records for a documentary. True, there's no way to know how much the film would have earned without the pirated copies, but it's still hard to argue with box office receipts in the eight figures.



Similarly, there's also not the slightest proof that clips of TV shows that appear on YouTube have ever hurt the networks. Indeed, the opposite appears to be true: CBS months ago reported that viewership increased after it began offering streams from shows like "Late Show With David Letterman" on YouTube.

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