If you’ve haven’t had a chance to see the incredible documentary The Internet’s Own Boy, then go do that as soon as possible. It’s wonderful. And if you have seen it, encourage your friends to watch it too.  

One of the best things you can do after seeing the film is organize a screening for your community. To help, we made some tips on how to host a successful viewing party and put together some questions to help guide a thoughtful discussion after the film.

You can download and print the discussion questions below to take with you to the screening. We also have a template email sign-up sheet to help you jumpstart a local mailing list of people in your community who want to engage deeper in the movement to defend our digital rights.

Organize a Successful Screening

Organizing a viewing party for The Internet’s Own Boy boils down to finding a date and a space with the proper projection equipment and doing outreach.

Decide if you’d like to have an open discussion afterwards with everyone, or a more organized event, such as a panel discussion featuring local activists and experts that can delve deeper into the issues discussed in the film. Some ideas for speakers include local professors, librarians, or digital rights activists in your community. Feel free to email april@eff.org if you’d like help finding good speakers in your area.

For whatever you decide, here’s a short checklist of everything you’ll want to make sure to have squared away before promoting the event:

  • Venue: Is it the proper size for the expected crowd?
  • Screening equipment:  Is there a projector, the proper cables and a sound system? If needed, are there microphones?
  • Seating: Be sure that there are enough chairs or places for people to lounge.
  • Timing: Find a date and time that will be most likely to accommodate the most people.

Next you’ll want to think about promotion. If it’s a larger, public event, consider submitting a listing to your local weekly paper and getting on their calendar. You may also want to get on the calendar for your community or college radio station. Make flyers, post them around town, and be sure to promote heavily on social media. Event pages on social media sites are often very useful.

There might also be some local mailing lists or community leaders who can share the event with their crew.

Materials for Your Screening

You’ll most likely want a number of promotional materials, like images and graphics to share online. Printing some physical flyers and posters might also be helpful. The Internet Archive has thumbnail images from the film that you can use to create flyers.

Also, don’t forget to have an email sign-up sheet. After the screening, you can use it to start a mailing list to share news and organize future digital rights events and actions.

Many may wish for some informational resources to get a better grasp of the issues discussed in the film. Here’s a list to links of one-pagers you can have on-hand and printed.

  • The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (PDF)
  • Demand Open Access to Research (PDF)
  • End the NSA’s Illegal Spying (PDF)
  • Coders’ Rights Project (PDF)

Discussion Questions

The Internet’s Own Boy raises many important questions on topics that may be new to some viewers. Whether you’re watching this in a classroom or in a community setting, these questions can help to guide a discussion after the film. We recommend reading our explanation of some of the issues raised in the film before leading a discussion.

Creative Commons:

  • Has anyone in the room used or reused a creative work without knowing the copyright?
  • What would an Internet without homemade music videos and memes made from screenshots be like? What if everyone always had to ask for permission first?
  • Does fair use of creative works really make it impossible for the creators of those works to make a living? Who actually makes money off of copyright?

Open Access and Open Government:

  • Does anyone have a story to share about trying to access resources that are supposed to be a matter of public record, like court documents?
  • How are some communities disproportionally affected by policies that close access to information?

Stopping SOPA:

  • Anyone remember the Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA) or what it was like to see a website blacked out? What lessons did the Stop SOPA campaign teach us?
  • What is the relationship between copyright and censorship?

The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA):

  • According to the government, it is illegal under the CFAA to violate a website’s terms of service. Does knowing this mean that any of us will start to read the terms of service?
  • Does knowing that there are such outdated and misused laws on the books have a chilling effect on your likelihood to share information?

Next steps:

  • Does your university have an open access policy? Are you an artist who is going to start using Creative Commons?
  • What are your concerns about the future of the Internet? Are you ready to get involved in a digital campaign or contact your elected officials about your concerns?
  • If you want to get involved, but have reservations as to what to do next, what are those? What can we do to continue to raise awareness about these issues?
  • How will you keep learning about fair use and copyright, unjust computer crime laws, open access, and other digital rights issues?

Follow up!

Be sure to collect email addresses of everyone who came to the event and follow up by inviting them to join a mailing list. Check back frequently on EFF.org/fight to learn about our many campaigns and ways to get involved in the fight to protect our digital rights.