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If Sony wanted everyone to see it, shouldn’t they have made it available outside of North America?
It’s been a tumultuous ride for the poorly reviewed comedy about killing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. It may or may have not been the impetus for hackers, who may or may not have been North Korean, to attack Sony Entertainment. Either way, that hack prompted major movie theater chains to cancel their screenings of the film’s planned Christmas Day release.
But almost immediately after the movie was released as a legal pay-per-view on sites like Google Play and YouTube—though only to Americans and Canadians, which likely spurred a good chunk of the piracy—The Interview showed up on practically every possible online piracy destination.
Links to download the film as an mp4 file were (and still are) on Mega. The Pirate Bay, the world’s largest torrent search engine, is still mysteriously down, but The Interview is widely available on a commonly cited clone site, as well as other major torrent sites. As of this writing, more than 50,000 people are sharing a single torrent for the movie on Kickass Torrents; and another big engine, isoHunt, proudly proclaimed its availability with a blog post that declared “Merry Christmas Kim Jong-un!”
TorrentFreak estimates that at least 200,000 people pirated the movie on BitTorrent within the first ten hours of its release alone.
And who first leaked the movie to the public, something many tech writers speculated would have happened already? It could have been almost anyone. As noticed by Twitter user @expensivelooks, and later confirmed by the Verge, people who pirated the film through Sony’s streaming site, Kernel, were for some reason offered the chance to download The Interview, no strings attached, after they paid for a rental.
So pretty much anyone with an Internet connection—not just users in the U.S. and Canada—can now watch The Interview. This just probably isn’t what either Sony Entertainment, or Kim Jong-un—both of whom have pretty bad records when it comes to respecting free speech—would have wanted.
Photo via Pavel Ševela/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)
A former senior politics reporter for the Daily Dot, Kevin Collier focuses on privacy, cybersecurity, and issues of importance to the open internet. Since leaving the Daily Dot in March 2016, he has served as a reporter for Vocativ and a cybersecurity correspondent for BuzzFeed.