It isn't a secret that Michael Moore dislikes U.S. copyright law and is okay with piracy. It also isn't a secret that Moore fears the U.S. government will want to confiscate his new film, Sicko, and so he's been stashing copies outside the country. What may be a secret is that Moore may have personally leaked his film to the internet -- this is what some people think, anyway -- in order to get his film seen before/if it is seized, or for publicity. Moore denies this, of course, and I honestly doubt that he would bother doing something that would upset the Weinsteins. Still, I'm sure they're all aware that Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 was heavily pirated and that film went on to break box office records.

Anyway, the most accessible copies of Sicko, those on You Tube, have been ordered down by Lionsgate (which is co-distributing with The Weinstein Co.). After a whole weekend of being available in 14 consecutive segments, enough damage may have been done, but it is interesting to see how many people actually watched the documentary on the site. The two uploaded copies appear to have only been viewed by just under 1000 people (not including any other people sitting there with each You Tuber). That doesn't seem too bad. Now, get this: the first segments, or the first ten minutes, were watched by about 3000 people. Unless all of those people (minus the 1000 who continued watching) were really not into the film, I think many just wanted to check out the intro to see if they wanted to go see it in the theater. I've always been a fan of the "watch the first ten minutes" idea, which has been useful for little films that can actually hook a moviegoer in with its beginning.

So, even if Moore didn't do it, somebody has possibly helped with the marketing of Sicko. Even the fact that this is a national news story helps the awareness factor. Supposedly The Weinstein Co. is going to track down the pirate, because the leak seems to have come from a watermarked screener DVD. When they do, they should wait and see how Sicko's opening weekend goes before pressing charges. They may want to give the person an award instead.

Can piracy really ruin a movie? Read Erik's Monday Morning Poll, and tell us what you think.