Lecturer Accuses WikiLeaks Movie Of Stealing His Slideshow

A computer lecturer has accused the 2013 movie about WikiLeaks “The Fifth Estate” of piracy after he discovered that his slideshows appear in the movie without his permission.

Michael Steil writes on his Page Table blog that when watching the movie, he recognised one of the phrases as something he would say. Sure enough, it was something he actually said himself during a 2007 talk in Berlin. 

The scene in question takes place when the character of Julian Assange, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, gives a lecture in Berlin accompanied by other WikiLeaks employees. On a board behind Assange is a set of cards that he links with string.

It turns out that pretty much all of those cards were lifted without attribution from Steil’s 2007 talk. 

Here’s a still image of the scene showing Cumberbatch acting next to the cardboard display:

And here’s the slideshow which Steil accuses the filmmakers of using for the cards:

You can see that the central card in the movie still reads “Linux is Inevitable,” which is the second slide in Steil’s slideshow. 

But it’s not just a single slide that the filmmakers used. Steil claims that “most slides” shown on the board are “direct copies” of either his 2007 talk, or another lecture that he gave in 2008. 

Steil’s name doesn’t appear in “The Fifth Estate.” Instead, the cards are credited to Denis Schnegg, the movie’s supervising art director.

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