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Ellen Page's Video Game Shower Scene and the Streisand Effect

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By William Peacock, Esq. on October 29, 2013 3:55 PM

Beyond Two Souls is more than an ordinary video game. Most video games prioritize game play and graphics over storyline. Most have terrible voice actors and even worse plot lines. And while Beyond Two Souls has debuted to mixed reviews about its plot and game play, it stars two top-tier Hollywood stars: Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe, and part of the game was screened at the 2013 Tribeca Film festival.

That alone makes the game notable, but it isn't what has brought the game free publicity over the last week or so. No, the publicity came from animated nude shower scenes, "hacked" from a debugging console, that weren't even part of the game. And as soon as Sony tried to clamp down on the leaked screen captures, the wrath of the Internet, via the Streisand Effect, made the images go viral. (Here is the semi-safe-for-work, no nudity version of the leaked video.)

Internet: An IP Nightmare

How long does it take for an image to travel across the Internet? If it involves nudity, even animated nudity, of a celebrity, we'd venture a guess of milliseconds. And it is impossible to remove something from the Internet that people want. Think pirated movies, music, and celebrity nude photos for prime examples.

Takedown Requests

Your first instinct, if your company's IP is being shared online illegally, may be to send strongly-worded threatening cease-and-desist letters to websites that host the content.

According to Ars Technica, that's exactly what Sony did here, and the response was instant. The image was copied, and reposted, and reposted, and reposted, and even a Reddit thread popped up, posting new links to the image each time one was taken down. And Sony's request wasn't even harshly-worded -- it was actually pretty tame.

It's human nature to want what others say you can't have. And the Streisand Effect, named for the Hollywood star who sued to have images of her home removed from the Internet, only to later have the images go viral, is a common response to takedown requests.

Had Sony remained silent, the images probably still would've attracted attention, but not nearly as much. Then again, there are rumors that the game's star, Ellen Page, has threatened to sue, so the company's hand may have been forced.

If You Can't Beat 'Em

Some have speculated that this is a publicity ploy by Sony and/or the game developer. After all, why include the nude 3D models on the game disc, even if they are only accessibly by programmers' special debugging consoles?

Even if it was accidental, Sony's response has piqued the Internet's interest. If your company's IP leaks, and you think having it go viral could help sales, perhaps a strongly-worded cease-and-desist campaign is in order.

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