For years, BitTorrent, the company that makes the popular torrent client by the same name, has been perceived as a shady gateway that enables people to download copyright infringing content. But that perception could change soon as the software maker is offering a helping hand to the Sony corporation to provide it a platform to release its controversial The Interview movie. The announcement comes days after the Japanese media conglomerate announced that it won’t be releasing the Seth Rogen and James Franco starring comedy title in theaters after its networks were hacked by alleged North Korean hackers warning Sony against releasing the movie. Also Read - Bitcoin price jumps after Elon Musk tweets Tesla will accept crypto in future
Late last month, Sony Pictures’ network were breached and a huge chunk of its sensitive information were stolen by a hacker group named Guardians of Peace. The sensitive information included security code and contact information of several Hollywood celebrities, internal emails revealing different company’s plans, its execs’ salaries, unreleased movies, and a number of other things. While North Korea has continued to deny its involvement from this hack, it is highly believed that their regime is behind this attack. The hackers had earlier warned the company that it would release more data if Sony releases the movie The Interview. Sony then cancelled plans to release the movie after finding no takers who would risk a similar attack on their network. Also Read - Best 5 apps to buy, sell and trade Bitcoin in India: WazirX, CoinDC, CoinSwitch Kuber, more
The movie is about two celebrity journalists, who visit North Korea to interview Kim Jong-Un, the supreme leader of the nation. These journalists are later asked by the CIA to kill him. The North Korean government finds this movie insulting and an “act of war.” Also Read - This country becomes world’s first to approve Bitcoin as official currency
While the torrent platform has been mostly known for illegal downloads, it does offer a Video on Demand service which comes with a paygate that protects and monetizes downloadable content. And while Sony is struggling to find an alternate platform and contemplates whether to release the movie at all, BitTorrent’s VoD does look one of the best available options.
“This is bigger than Sony at this point,” said Matt Mason, BitTorrent’s chief content officer to FastCompany. “We can’t let this go, and by we I mean the free world. When it comes to freedom of speech, what’s happening with this is really frightening. This film should come out, whether on BitTorrent or not, even if it’s the worst movie in the world.”
One thing Sony could do is, as pointed by a few people on a Facebook thread, release the movie on Crackle. Owned by Sony itself, Crackle is a streaming service that comes with a pretty interesting revenue model wherein instead of charging the users with subscription plans, the service makes revenue via views. This way if Sony does release the title on Crackle, it will be able to lure in the attention of most people, including and especially the ones who would otherwise download the movie from torrent and file sharing networks.
The company could also give BitTorrent’s VoD platform a try. The service has been previously used by Madonna, who released her short film Secretprojectrevolution on the platform. It also helped Hollywood giants to get a 20-minute preview of The Act of Killing, a 2012 documentary about mass Indonesian killings to reach more people.
But perhaps what makes the BitTorrent community so special is the fact that — unlike with Sony — there is no central server that governs and regulates their usage. It’s a network connecting more than 170 million people from across the world running a number of different operating systems adding different kinds of security sophistication into the mix. Suffice to assume that this kind of network is much difficult to breach. Hollywood itself has been trying to deface this for decades, but the community has only grown larger over the years. Mason says that BitTorrent “moves 40% of upload and download traffic every day. It’s one of the backbones of the Internet, you cannot take it down.”
“If nothing else, it would more clearly communicate our intentions to Hollywood,” says Mason. “What better way to take back the Internet than to use technology Hollywood has been scared to use?”