The makers of a hit independent movie drama about the assassination of Microsoft's Bill Gates - called Nothing so Strange - have released the film on an open source basis.

It is the first time any feature film has been released in this manner. Movie director Brian Fleming said: "We're entering a new digital world, where it will be as easy for the average consumer to play around with the media they buy as it is for any of us to play with text.

"The big media companies are clearly scared of this future, because they are spending millions fighting it. We have chosen to embrace it. There is huge potential here."

The movie is being released under a licence that allows all the source footage of the movie to be used without restriction in personal or commercial projects, though the actual movie as created by the filmmaker is under copyright.

"You have free access to all the parts of the movie, but you can't just copy our version of it; you have to make your own original work with the various parts," Fleming explained.

The first release of "source" footage is a DVD of Gates-assassination evidence that pretends to have been released by Citizens for Truth, the grass-roots citizens group that investigates the Gates assassination in Nothing So Strange. It contains all the camera angle shots and a selection of audio files, still and video shots. Mac users can assemble these pieces as they wish, and output the result with their SuperDrive.

The moviemakers are doing this because they want to see a looser approach to copyright protection. Executive producer Brian Clark said: "If other people make and distribute derivative works of the movie that can only increase awareness of it. And that is the toughest job for an independent film, especially one without a major distributor."

More information is available here.