Sony needed a Federal guarantee to release ‘The Interview’

By | December 20, 2014

Maybe a TRIA-like program for a firm like Sony that was threatened with terrorism would have allowed them to release ‘The Interview’!

At his final press conference of the year Barack Obama unequivocally stated that Sony should not have backed away from the North Korean threat of a 9/11-style attack on any movie theater showing ‘The Interview’.

It was the President’s opinion that the studio should have released the film despite the potential risk of doing so.

That is an easy position for a government official to take after the fact, but it is certainly not such a simple decision for a public company (or a private one) to make.

Of course in a perfect world we should never back down and let terrorists ‘win’, with this case in particular representing a particularly slippery slope, but we do not live in a perfect world!

Were Sony to release the film and, God forbid, an attack to occur after the threat was known it would have resulted in claims against the company that would have the potential to put it out of business.

The management of Sony has a fiduciary responsibility to manage risk and doing what they did, while having potentially far-reaching and long-lasting unintended consequences, would be considered by most to have been the prudent course of action.

A possible commercial real estate industry type of solution to the Sony dilemma!

After 9/11 the federal government passed the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) for the purpose of ‘putting a temporary federal backstop program in place that would allow for a public and private sharing of insured losses resulting from future acts of terrorism against the United States.’

With TRIA in place insurers were willing to underwrite terrorism insurance for commercial real estate keeping the industry viable. Without it ‘insurers would have sought to limit underwriting for high concentrations of risks in major cities—causing terrorism insurance coverage to become unavailable or unaffordable.

Were something like TRIA in place would it have worked for Sony by allowing them to release the movie as planned? Maybe, but then again maybe not.

If threats like the one that caused the release of ‘The Interview’ to be canceled become more commonplace, the only potential way I can see that the threatened party would even consider proceeding would be if in some way they were indemnified against lawsuits.

And even then they likely might do what Sony did!

Truth-be-told does anyone or any company really want to be responsible for a ‘9/11-style’ attack?

Bottom-line? North Korea on its own or possibly in conjunction with China has overnight made a complicated and dangerous world that much more so!


Michael Haltman, President of Hallmark Abstract Service, New York.

HAS is a provider of title insurance in New York State for residential and commercial real estate transactions specializing in the areas of New York City, Long Island and Westchester.

For anyone either buying a property or refinancing, remember that although your attorney will likely recommend a title insurance provider, you always have the right to choose your own title company (click here to learn more)!

If you have any questions you can reach Michael by email at

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