Sony Will Release The Interview After All, Demands That Twitter Suspend Users Proliferating Leaked Emails
One step forward, two steps back.
Good news for people who’ve been following the recent Sony hack scandal closely—turns out that they’ve caved on their own caving and will offer their (admittedly probably very stupid) film The Interview to moviegoers via a “limited theatrical release.” The bad news for those same people is that if Sony has their way, all of your Twitter accounts are probably forfeit.
The news broke earlier today when Alamo Drafthouse founder Tim League revealed on Twitter that Sony Pictures Entertainment had officially authorized screenings of the film at the Alamo Dallas location on Christmas Day. After a few other theaters across the followed suit, Sony Entertainment Chairman and CEO Michael Lynton put out the following statement:
We have never given up on releasing ‘The Interview’ and we’re excited our movie will be in a number of theaters on Christmas Day. At the same time, we are continuing our efforts to secure more platforms and more theaters so that this movie reaches the largest possible audience.
I want to thank our talent on ‘The Interview’ and our employees, who have worked tirelessly through the many challenges we have all faced over the last month. While we hope this is only the first step of the film’s release, we are proud to make it available to the public and to have stood up to those who attempted to suppress free speech.
Speaking of suppressing free speech (zing!), Sony lawyer David Boies—whose name you might remember from that time he defended file-sharing service and piracy facilitator Napster—sent a letter to the social media service Twitter recently, asking for their cooperation in their lawsuit against British songwriter Val Broeksmit for his prolific tweets documenting some of the emails found in the leaked data. An example of some of the stuff he’s tweeted out:
— val broeksmit (@BikiniRobotArmy) December 22, 2014
— val broeksmit (@BikiniRobotArmy) December 17, 2014
According to the letter, what Sony Pictures Entertainment wants is for Twitter to suspend Broeksmit’s account, as well as “the account of any other user seeking to disseminate the Stolen Information via Twitter”:
Now, we can argue about the merits of reporting the information gleaned from this massive breach of privacy (and in the interest of full disclosure, The Mary Sue has reported on some of these leaks). In fact, it also should be noted that Boise has also sent cease-and-desists to The New York Times, The Hollywood Reporter, and the Los Angeles Times, to name a few. This request is not without precedent, either, as Twitter has deleted stolen content from its service before—the blowback from the horrifically titled “Fappening” comes to mind.
But there’s just something about this letter that doesn’t sit well with me. At least in the case of the celebrity hacks, whether or not someone was disseminating the stolen photos is pretty cut-and-dry—did they post the photo, whether directly or via a link? Then yeah, suspend ’em. But the wording of Sony’s objection here could conceivably allow them to claim an unprecedented amount of oversight over Twitter users discussing the hacked information. Does someone’s dumb joke about an executive’s racist email count as an account holder’s “review?” Is linking to a Gawker piece about the hack a suspend-able offense? What constitutes being “published?” Where, exactly, is the line that Sony’s trying to draw here?
Well, that, or it could be the fact that the ridiculous Twitter handle “@BikiniRobotArmy” is now being cited in a legal document. Let’s be honest, that’s bound not to sit well with anybody.