Weekly News Roundup (28 December 2014)

Welcome to this special post-Christmas, pre-New Year edition of the WNR. As expected, it was a really really quiet week, with almost everyone either drunk on eggnog, or whatever delicious alcohol based Christmas/holidays based food product that’s popular in your region (or just plain old alcohol).

There’s still a sprinkling of news stories, so I’ll cover them in super quick fashion and let you get back to your drunken/overeating stupor.

Any news this week will almost certainly have something to do with the Sony hacking, in particular the decision to release/not release The Interview. In the end, Sony decided to compromise on their earlier (and rather cowardly) decision, by allowing independent cinemas (or any cinema that wanted to show the film) to show it, while also releasing the film on streaming and download platforms, like YouTube and Xbox Video (there’s also a rumor that Netflix may be interested in purchasing the rights to the film).

The Interview poster

The mishandling of The Interview’s release has been more damaging than the hack itself. Well, maybe not …

I’m still not 100% convinced North Korea was actually behind the hack (many others have similar doubts), and so any subsequent terror threats from the group will not be genuine (and there’s no evidence that the group, even if it is NK backed, has the capability to carry out their threat). So the decision by cinema chains to abandon the film, and for Sony to not use its power and influence to force cinema chains to reverse their decision, and especially in the light of all the free publicity the film has gotten, seems all very cowardly and unnecessary to me.

Instead of a win-win, Sony chose a lose-lose solution, and by limiting screenings of the film people really want to watch, even if it’s just to prove a point, the inevitable happens: piracy! Within hours of the film hitting the digital platforms, pirated versions sprang up at the usual places and people are downloading like crazy. This time, many feel morally justified to do so, first to stand up for freedom of speech and against threats and intimidation (from NK, or whomever); second to protest the weak decisions made by spineless corporations. “Why should Sony profit from their cowardly move”, some will say. I’m not so sure that’s a valid excuse though, and this comes from a guy who’s not a big fan of the company, even before these events. So don’t give Sony the opportunity to say “piracy is not an availability problem” because it’s still being pirated despite being on digital platforms without a release window, if you were going to pay for a ticket before or have the capability to pay for the movie, you can find out how to buy the film by visiting the film’s official website.


MPAA’s $80 million victory over Hotfile, was more like a $4 million minor one

So while The Interview stuff is still making all the headlines, some of the other more interesting stuff have been buried in the news cycle. This includes the interesting revelation that the MPAA/Hotfile settlement wasn’t the $80 million headline grabbing deal that the studios wanted it to look like, but a much smaller $4 million under the table settlement deal, with Hotfile agreeing to a $80 million settlement judgement being entered. The bigger bogus amount was needed by the MPAA to scare others into submission, although Hotfile did come up with the $4 million in three separate payments. Probably not enough to even cover the MPAA’s legal bills, but whatever.


Lastly for the week, and maybe the for the year, Sony has admitted that Microsoft’s aggressive pricing strategy for the Xbox One is making things a lot harder for the PS4, but despite this, supply constraints are still a problem for the popular console. All I know is that both the PS4 and the Xbox One are a lot cheaper than their predecessors at the same stage in their release cycle, and that’s gotta be good for the consumer.


Alright, that’s it for this abridged version of the WNR. Merry Belated Christmas, Happy Holidays, and see you in the New Year!


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