Participant, Pivot Nab Rights to Internet Activist Docu ‘Aaron Swartz’

Participant Media and FilmBuff have licensed North American rights to Brian Knappenberger’s  docu “The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz.”

The announcement came a month after the film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. The companies have tentatively set a day-and-date theatrical and VOD release for June followed by a broadcast television premiere on Participant’s Pivot network in the fourth quarter.

The film will be screening at the upcoming South by Southwest Film Festival. It was directed, written and produced by Knappenberger (“We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists”); exec producers are Charles Annenberg Weingarten, Zach Braff and Mason Fink.

Diane Weyermann of Participant Media said, “‘The Internet’s Own Boy’ is a deeply moving story that explores the incredible power of one individual to inspire change and the complexity and importance of freedom of information – all of which are right at the core of what our company is about.”

Swartz was a brilliant software programmer and Internet activist who died in his Brooklyn apartment at the age of 26 in January 2013. New York City’s chief medical examiner ruled the death a suicide by hanging.

Swartz founded the group Demand Progress to oppose antipiracy legislation last year. He was indicted in 2011 on federal data-theft charges for breaking into the MIT computer system and allegedly downloading 4.8 million documents and was due to go to trial in April 2013.

The film explores the arrest, the prosecution’s tactics in bringing the case to trial through the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and the possible future of information access on the Internet.

Geoff Berkshire gave the film a strong review for Variety, calling it “spellbinding.”

The deal was negotiated by FilmBuff’s Janet Brown and Steven Beckman, Participant’s Jeff Ivers, Pivot’s Jennie Morris and Cinetic Media’s John Sloss on behalf of the filmmakers.

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