The plan was to circulate a fake version of a television show on torrent sites but instead of a full file it was just going to promote the real show and explain where to buy content.
The idea was praised for being “clever” but spiked because of a strict policy against using torrent sites.
Pamela Parker, a senior executive in the division responsible for international television content, wrote in an email that was leaked to the public after hackers attacked Sony Pictures Entertainment that she loved the idea.
“Unfortunately the studio position is that we absolutely cannot post content (even promos) on torrent sites,
“The studio spends millions of dollars fighting piracy and it doesn’t send a good message if we then start using those same pirate sites to promote our shows.”
Sony’s lawyers were also concerned that official use of torrent sites would complicate any lawsuits the industry might want to bring against them in the future.
Paula Askanas, executive vice president of communications for international television, said in another leaked email that there was some concern that doing anything could inhibit the MPAA in a future lawsuit going after the sites.
The matter came up back in March, just after the second season of the thriller series “Hannibal”—which Sony says is one of its most-pirated shows in Europe—had premiered in the US and was starting to show up on illegal filesharing sites.
The plan, which was championed by Polish marketing employee Magda Mastalerz, was to upload a 60-second “Hannibal”-themed anti-piracy ad to popular torrent sites disguised as the first episode. The promo was aimed at convincing people in Central Europe to stop downloading and watch the show legally on the Sony-owned channel AXN.
Sony’s lawyers and the executive vice president responsible for intellectual property quickly struck it down. The final decision: “no one is allowed to use these pirate sites as marketing tools,” as Askanas wrote.