Sony Lawyers Warn Press to Destroy Documents from Hack

Sony Hacking legal

Sony Pictures Entertainment is hitting back at media outlets for using stolen documents to report on the fallout from a devastating hack at the studio.

Attorneys for the studio are asking press to destroy any information it may have obtained after information and emails were leaked online and emailed to journalists.

“We are writing to ensure that you are aware that SPE does not consent to your possession, review, copying, dissemination, publication, uploading, downloading or making any use of the stolen information,” reads the letter from attorney David Boies.

The security breach and subsequent data dump has made public such internal financial documents as film budgets, earnings statements and emails from top Sony executives.

It’s also resulted in a series of embarrassing revelations such as an email exchange between Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chair Amy Pascal and producer Scott Rudin in which the two made a series of racially charged jokes about President Barack Obama’s favorite movies. Both Rudin and Pascal have since apologized.

Variety received the letter from Boies along with several other news organizations such as the New York Times, which initially reported on the contents of the note. Boies is a prominent attorney who represented Vice President Al Gore during his presidential election recount battle and led the challenge to California’s gay marriage ban.

The note from Sony arrived just as hackers released their eighth leak of confidential studio material.

It’s not clear who is behind the attack on Sony, but suspicion has landed on North Korea. The country is angry over the upcoming release of “The Interview,” a Seth Rogen comedy that depicts an assassination attempt on North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Boies’ letter alluded to “The Interview,” stating that the hack was part of “an on-going campaign explicitly seeking to prevent SPE from distributing a motion picture.”

In terms of legal precedent for using stolen materials for newsgathering purposes, the Supreme Court ruled in 2001 in its Bartnicki vs. Vopper decision that a radio station could not be held liable for broadcasting an illegally recorded conversation because the station was a third party and not the one committing an illegal act. Writing for the majority, Justice John Paul Stevens said that the conversation was a matter of public interest.

Ted Johnson contributed to this report.

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  1. John says:

    SONY is obviously just another corporate sickhouse, full of itself like all the other “players” in La La Land. I’d post all the stolen emails for the same reason my theater will run THE INTERVIEW: freedom of the press and First Amendment Right.

  2. Beckstle says:

    Sony is not a government agency and these are not government employees. Comparing this to Nixon or Snowden is inaccurate. This is not a whistle-blower, It’s a cyber attack on a private company and private individuals. Being that Supreme Court has declared that corporations are people, this becomes a right to privacy issue.

    There’s also a general sickness about this. It is encouraging cyber terrorism to run these stories. It’s proving it to be effective, and It’s profiting from criminal activity.

  3. LOL this is hilarious! good Hollywood leftists mocking a good leftist president? What is this world coming to? I love when the masks come off and these hypocrites reveal who they really are behind closed doors and keyboards.

    Just in case you were off planet when the Edward Snowden NSA Scandal came to light, there is really no such thing as 100% secure file storage if its connected to the internet. Especially if you use any third party storage… I store EVERYTHING on a portable hard drive… and dis-connect it when I am not using it.. You can get a terabyte portable hard drive for around $150.00, I never have to worry about losing anything or anyone stealing my files…and I don’t pay a monthly fee..

    Hell, I don’t even really use my “smart phone”. My old dumb-one is good enough for me and its cheaper. It’s a waste of money just like so many other things in America like student loans (get a cheap education!), expensive car insurance (my $25/month policy from Insurance Panda is good enough for me), and fast food (who wants to pay $10 for a Chipotle burrito?!?).

    Also – One way to completely ensure there are no bad photos of yourself that could wind up in an embarrassing situations is to NOT take them. Seems pretty logical to me… And if you don’t want your racist emails coming to light, don’t write them!

  4. ChickenHawk says:

    Get Obama to put some pressure on the press to bury it. He’s been getting the press to downplay most of his scandals the past 6 years. He may be able to help Sony.

  5. WEHO says:

    Boise would sell his soul for a Starbucks. Do these dregs know how much they are hated and loathed.

  6. Hollywood Hero says:

    Wow David Boise the guy who defended Napster against the recording mafia thats some irony. Also contrary to what Mr. Boise may want you to think I’m pretty sure it’s not illegal to download, view or report on the contents by the media. I think the press has plenty of precedent to point to in this area, Pentagon Papers, Watergate, Edward Snowden etc…

  7. David Butler says:

    A la Philip Roth, do Pascal & Rudin keep china &silverware under the sink in case the Obama’s show up for dinner?

  8. Michael Anthony says:

    Sony us correct. Email us both different than snail mail. Anybif you laughing at Sony, tajeca monentcand consider if your emails and snail mail were made public? You wouldn’t want it and its against the law.

    Variety should consider if it would want its emails made public by a thief!

  9. MarinDem says:

    LOL now that’s FUNNY. Sony threatening the press like we live in North Korea !

  10. Lily White says:

    I was wondering what would bring an end to big studios. North Korea? Nah. If they’ve done this to one studio though, I bet they have all the emails of all the other studios too. I think a lot of you should be sweating right about now. I’m enjoying this. Maybe Amy will finally take a look at my independent film…nah…I don’t think anyone will be hiring her anytime soon. Even Netflix won’t be returning her emails anymore. Wah Wah.

  11. Phil says:

    Does that mean that Amy Pascal and Scott Rudin get to take their “apology” back?

  12. Mike says:

    Sony lithium ion batteries leaked toxic and flamable chemicals injuring families and comprimising families health and safety. See Messier v. SONY, Dell, USCPSC, and last week NTSB reports. Time for hearings in washington, just like ignition switches and airbags.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Great — release all the Sony employees’ social security numbers, addresses and birthdates, and not a peep from the lawyers.

    Release the racist, egotistical, scheming emails of the honchos, and the lawyers are all over it.

  14. jhs39 says:

    The contents of the stolen e-mails obviously qualify as news so it’s hard to see how Sony would prevail in court. Allowing them to block stories about the contents of the e-mails would create a precedent effectively making the publishing of any information provided by a whistle-blower illegal since that information would also be considered stolen from whomever is being reported on. The lawyer’s statement just makes Sony look desperate.

  15. Heather says:

    I am sure this is what freedom of the press is for. If you didn’t commit the crime, but are reporting facts of said crime you shouldn’t be responsible against any legal actions (unless you are reporting defaming untruths). I’m well aware at any given moment my online information is vulnerable therefore I would think Sony would know that as well (especially given their history with such attacks)!

    • Michael Anthony says:

      Every company and individual, like you, considers mail private. Companies and people often say things that are shocking and repugnant. These mails were STOLEN! Why does that give the media the right to print mail that wawas stolen? That has nothing to do with freedom if the press. Your argument makes it sound OK if it was your private emails printed on media sites.

  16. Lisa says:

    Hmmm. Must be something more damaging rising to the surface.

    • Alex says:

      #GOP may be saving the worst for last, if it’s REALLY nasty, every entertainment news site will rush to be the 1st to post it. Do they really think Drudge won’t post it? Every entertainment site is drooling waiting for #GOP to strike again.

  17. JD_Law says:

    Media’s 1st amendment right – to report what is going.

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