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Sony gets out its check book, agrees to pay up to $8M to settle hack lawsuit

It’s getting on for a year since Sony Pictures was hit by hackers purporting to be angry at the studio’s backing of The Interview, a Seth Rogen comedy about a CIA plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

As Sony Pictures scrambled to contain the rapidly unfolding incident at the end of last year, a number of people associated with the studio decided to sue it for its failure to protect the personal data of its workers, both past and present.

The resulting class-action lawsuit, which Variety reported included all Sony Pictures corporate and production employees (both current and former), was settled last month. Court papers filed in an LA court this week show the agreement could cost Sony up to $8 million.

Payment possibilities

The documents reveal that each claimant could receive up to $10,000 from a $2.5 million fund for losses from ID theft that resulted from the cyber attack.

There’s also a $2 million fund to reimburse those who paid out for services to protect themselves from ID theft, with each individual able to claim up to $1,000. A fund worth $3.5 million covering legal fees is also part of the settlement.

Related: Yikes – did a teenager really hack the CIA director’s email?

The hack was a devastatingly messy affair for Sony Pictures, with hackers stealing a huge amount of data that included personal details of current and former employees, unreleased movies and scripts, and emails revealing some of Hollywood’s behind-the-scenes shenanigans.

As the fallout from the scandal continued to make headlines last year, the two plaintiffs that led the lawsuit accused Sony Pictures of failing to “secure its computer systems, servers and databases, despite weaknesses that it has known about for years,” adding that the studio had “subsequently failed to timely protect confidential information of its current and former employees from law-breaking hackers.” Indeed, it emerged that some of the stolen information was kept on spreadsheet files that had no password protection.

The lawsuit described the cyberattack and subsequent fallout as “an epic nightmare, much better suited to a cinematic thriller than to real life.”

‘An important, positive step’

An Associated Press report said Sony Pictures CEO Michael Lynton told staff in a memo this week that the settlement was “an important, positive step forward in putting the cyberattack firmly behind us.”

Meanwhile, Sony Corporation boss Kazuo Hirai said on Tuesday that following the hack, the movie studio is now “more resilient, more strong and they have a very good management team in place now.”