For a moment there, it seemed like Sony Pictures was bowing down to the “Guardians of Peace” (GOP) hackers, presumed to be North Koreans, when they decided to pull “The Interview” out of the cinemas and cancel its release altogether. The move sparked an outrage in the US, with both potential audiences, celebrities, and even US President Barack Obama himself criticising the decision.
“I wish they had spoken to me first. We cannot have a society in which some dictatorship someplace can start imposing censorship,” President Barack Obama was quoted as saying.
But now, it looks like the public might get a chance to watch the movie after all.
“The Interview” is a film is about a fictional plot to kill North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. On 8th Dec, the GOP hackers group which claimed to have hacked Sony’s servers demanded that its movie studio pull the controversial movie, which led people to believe that North Korea was behind the unlawful intrusion. But on Sunday (7th Dec), North Korea denied involvement in the brazen cyber attack on Sony Pictures. They did, however, praise it as a “righteous deed” potentially orchestrated by supporters furious.
The massive hack also led to embarrassing Sony Pictures “intellectual property” leaks, ranging from stolen scripts to unleashing of celebrities’ private files into the waiting arms of media outlets around the world – to say the least.
According to Sony Pictures attorney David Boeis, the studio was only delaying the release. Speaking to “Meet the Press”on 21st Dec, he confirmed that Sony has been fighting to get “The Interview” distributed and it will distributed. However, how it’s going to be distributed is still unknown because Sony Pictures is still exploring options for distribution.
That having said, new unconfirmed reports from the NY Post indicated that the movie may be shown online for free on Crackle, an online streaming service backed by..well, who else but Sony Pictures? Crackle makes money through ads but not through subscriptions or rental transactions, thereby limiting its revenue potential and its appeal to Sony.
After all, “The Interview” cost a reported USD44 million to make therefore it’s a no-brainer that Sony would like to recoup at least some of those costs.
Aside from Crackle, there’s also a possibility that “The Interview” would end up being distributed through a cable video-on-demand service or an online streaming release, on a service like Netflix (NFLX, Tech30), Google (GOOG)’s YouTube, or Hulu. But these are all just assumptions for now because Netflix and YouTube have yet to respond to the rumours.
There is a strange and unexpected twist to all of this though. Just this morning, TechCrunch reported that BitTorrent has offered Sony a way to release “The Interview” on its own servers. The peer-to-peer file distribution network believes BitTorrent Bundle is the best way to satisfy both those asking for an online distribution and Sony’s desire to release the film.
They released a statement which read:
Like everyone else around the world, we’ve been following this egregious hacking of Sony’s servers over the past few weeks.
A trend has emerged among commentary in the days since Sony announced they would not release the motion picture, “The Interview.” There have been calls for Sony to release the film online. And many have contacted us asking: Would they be able to release the movie using BitTorrent?
Though we normally would not offer commentary during such a trying time for another company, the answer is yes. BitTorrent Bundle is in fact the very best way for Sony to take back control of their film, not acquiesce to terrorists threats, and to ensure a wide audience can view the film safely. It would also strike a strong note for free speech.
Bundle has a self-publishing platform that anyone from Sony can use: https://bundles.bittorrent.com/publish. Using the paygate option, Sony are able to set the price for the film and release it widely without implicating anyone or exposing any third party to a terrorist threat.
We disagree, however, with some that have suggested that Sony should make the film available through piracy sites. That would only serve to encourage bad actors. It’s also important to make the distinction that these piracy sites are not “torrent sites.” They are piracy sites that are wrongfully exploiting torrent technology.
BitTorrent Bundle is a safe and legal way for Sony to release this film and they would join the nearly 20,000 creators and rights holders now using the Bundle publishing platform.
BitTorrent says it has reached out to Sony with the offer to use its servers, but that Sony execs have so far not responded.