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December 4, 2014

ISPs slammed for enabling Sony leak

Conservative MP calls for wider view of piracy chain, including consumers.

By Jimmy Nicholls

ISPs should take more responsibility for aiding distribution of films leaked after the hacking of Sony Pictures Entertainment, according to the Prime Minister’s former intellectual property advisor.

Mike Weatherley, Conservative MP to Hove and Portslade, said people should have a wider view of the chain that facilitates piracy, and criticised the media’s focus on allegations that North Korea is behind the attack.

"The people who hacked the company are definitely to blame, but in the chain there’s other links," he said. "There’s other people who have posted the films and then we have got the ISPs who are allowing the activity to go down their lines."

He added that consumers who downloaded pirated films were also part of the problem, admitting that "if there wasn’t the demand to watch [such films] the hackers wouldn’t do it".

While Weatherley acknowledged that some sites had already been blocked by ISPs, the most recent effort involving the blacklisting of 53 filesharing services, he said more needed to be done.

"The problem is the ISPs are reactive," he added. "When the copyright holders get an injunction they will block it, [but] they shouldn’t wait for a court order to do this. They should have steps in place and systems in place to take proactive action."

Five films were released on the internet following the attack on Sony, with the war film Fury being downloaded more than 1.2 million times and the other four accruing 400,000 downloads between them, according to the piracy tracker Excipio.

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The tech site Re/code claimed "sources familiar with the matter" had told them Sony was investigating a link with North Korea over the hacking, after the country took offence at the plot of upcoming film The Interview in which two journalists are recruited by the CIA to assassinate the dictator Kim Jong-Un.

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