A film about two goofballs who are sent to North Korea to assassinate its dictator created an unexpected firestorm for Sony Pictures that has raged unabated since before Thanksgiving. Somewhere along the line, perhaps when the hacker group Guardians of Peace threatened attacks at any theater that dared to screen the film, it has come to represent the issue of free speech versus censorship.
"Free" is the operative word here: Since Wednesday's announcement from Sony that it would release the film online, but only in the U.S., it has been downloaded illegally -- and for free -- on Bit Torrent sites more than 200,000 times, reports Ubergizmo.
It was also screened in New York on the day it was originally to play, to much self-congratulation among filmgoers for fighting censorship and supporting free speech.
"The Interview" was available for streaming on YouTube, Google Play and Xbox Live, reports Torrent Freak. Google’s Chief Legal Officer David Drummond made a statement about the decision to stream the controversial film starring Seth Rogen and James Franco: “[A]fter discussing all the issues," said Drummond, "Sony and Google agreed that we could not sit on the sidelines and allow a handful of people to determine the limits of free speech in another country."
Sony hasn't yet released figures on how many legal -- and paid -- downloads "The Interview" has gotten at $5.99 a pop. But the illegal downloads can only continue to increase.