Sony Fires Off Letter To Press Outlets Demanding They Cease Publication Of And Destroy Any 'Stolen Information'

from the that-one-time-when-a-major-corporation-shot-itself-in-the-face dept

Sony may have no idea how to how to run a secure enterprise, but it doesn’t really take a whole lot of expertise or technical know-how to see that this particular gambit could only backfire.

In a sharply worded letter sent to news organizations, including The New York Times, David Boies, a lawyer for Sony, characterized the documents posted online as “stolen information” and demanded that they be avoided, and destroyed if they had already been downloaded or otherwise acquired.

The studio “does not consent to your possession, review, copying, dissemination, publication, uploading, downloading or making any use” of the information, Mr. Boies wrote in a three-page letter sent Sunday morning to the legal departments of media organizations.

Somebody approved this — someone higher up than David Boies. And that someone should probably step down and concentrate on staining his yacht deck or seeking to be nominated in the next Congressional election, or whatever it is studio execs do when they’ve outlived their usefulness.

The letter’s wording [pdf link] makes it sound as though the press outlets are doing something illegal (mainly through repetitive use of the word “stolen”) but is careful never to make that actual claim. It tries to bluster its way towards legitimacy by inserting a list of “in case of ‘stolen’ information” requests (worded to look like legal demands) into the letter.

As soon as you suspect that you may have possession of any of the Stolen Information*, we ask that you

(1) notify us using the contact information provided below;

(2) take all reasonable actions to prevent your company and any of your employees, independent contractors, agents, consultants, or anyone who may have access to your files from examining, copying, disseminating, distributing, publishing, downloading,uploading, or making any other use of the Stolen Information;

(3) arrange for and supervise the destruction of all copies of the Stolen Information in your possession or under your control, particularly information protected under US. and foreign legal doctrines protecting attorney-client privileged communications, attorney work product, and related privileges and protections, as well as private financial and other confidential information and communications of current and former personnel and others, confidential personnel data, intellectual property, trade secrets andother business secrets and related communications; and

(4) confirm that such destruction has been completed.**

In addition, if you have provided the Stolen Information to anyone outside of your company, we ask that you provide them with a copy of this letter, and request the destruction of the Stolen Information by the recipient.

[*”Stolen Information” being much more sensitive than your garden variety, lower-case “stolen information,” obvs.]
[**”Recycle Bin had little pieces of paper in it, but now appears to be empty.”]

I imagine the contact information provided is swiftly being bombarded with ridicule, fake tips, more ridicule, more fake tips and pictures of empty Recycle Bins.

The only threat in the document (other than the overall tone) is this:

If you do not comply with this request, and the Stolen Information is used or disseminated by you in any manner, SPE will have no choice but to hold you responsible for any damage or loss arising from such use or dissemination by you, including any damages or loss to SPE or others, and including, but not limited to, any loss of value of intellectual property and trade secrets resulting from your actions.

OK. Good luck with that. The Supreme Court has already held that this sort of dissemination is protected by the First Amendment. (h/t to Marcia Hofmann)

In a 6-3 opinion delivered by Justice John Paul Stevens, the Court held that the First Amendment protects the disclosure of illegally intercepted communications by parties who did not participate in the illegal interception.

The only mitigating factor is the relative worth of the “stolen information” to the public interest. Much of what’s been covered likely isn’t and much of what’s contained in the files that hasn’t been disseminated by press outlets definitely isn’t. But there are some revelations that are definitely matters of public interest, not the least of which is the MPAA’s plan to throw money at elected officials in exchange for some Google-hassling.

Sony appears to be in full panic mode, but it’s tough to sympathize with a corporation that has been hacked 56 times in 12 years but still keeps passwords in a folder labeled “Passwords.” This latest move won’t earn it anything more than an internetload of derision.

Filed Under: , , , , , , , , ,
Companies: sony, sony pictures

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Comments on “Sony Fires Off Letter To Press Outlets Demanding They Cease Publication Of And Destroy Any 'Stolen Information'”

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58 Comments
That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

I used to think it was only a couple lawyers I was smarter then… I was wrong.
O_O
They paid them for the result of even MORE people seeing the stories and being way more curious about what is out there that made them lose their damn minds and unleash the lawyers with little grasp of the actual law.

No wonder the “creative” sector is having problems, they are so far removed form reality that they think this was a good idea and would work.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Jennifer Lawrence’s photos presumably don’t show her kicking puppies and her having a naked body under her clothes isn’t newsworthy.

Sony execs trash talking others shows their bad character, which informs the moral decisions of consumers who might choose not to patronize businesses run by racist, democracy-subverting asshats.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The better question would be why you think that business transactions and highly personal photographs are equivalent to each other in any way. Do you honestly think that Lawrence’s pay details and naked body are worth the same thing by any metric?

I’ll leave the fact that you have some of your other facts completely wrong (e.g. the celebrities’ phones weren’t hacked, their iCloud accounts were) until later, then perhaps ask you to point to where people are saying this is morally OK (schadenfreude over a company with a long-term anti-consumer history doesn’t count).

Anonymous Coward says:

the only illegal acts are those that Sony are making and also want to make concerning a certain internet company, while enlisting the help via ‘encouragement’ from certain high-level legal people! had there not been anything illegal in the information that has been ‘discovered and released for others to peruse, Sony and others would have nothing to worry about. as it is, Sony is openly using illegal tactics, illegal computer programs and illegal threatening behavior to try to stem something they had every intention of carrying out! they wouldn’t have thought twice and nor would any of the other studios (or heads of them) about implementing any means to achieve what they wanted but as shit has hit fan, they are doing what all big companies, corporations and industries do, threaten everyone into submission that are less well equipped financially to defend themselves! yet again, a classic example of bullying by an industry member who was carrying out illegal practices just to be able to carry on doing what it has for decades, keeping control and screwing customers into the ground!

Anonymous Coward says:

The problem with these Lawyers and most professionals, they can’t seem to think out of their professional box, it’s a trap they live in (self trapped) when something happens outside their protected environment , they can’t can’t figure out why no ones listening to them , thats pretty much why Americas legal system is failing,and our nation toomany Lawyers in DC not enough common sense , the they need some real world experience away from the riches and the luxury.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I’ve been ranting about this one for years.

It’s come up in a lot of comments that I’ve seen in defense of CIA torture.

Heck, Cheney keeps saying, “it was legal,” and thus conjuring in the minds of many the Episode I footage of Darth Sidious saying in the next breath, “I will make it legal!”

It’s like the religious fundamentalists who cherry pick isolated passages from the old testament to justify persecuting people just because “God said it was okay in this one instance.”

observer (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I think this is a pretty huge problem. At least, I see it all the time — usually in the form of the assertion (or unstated assumption) that legality is an adequate proxy for ethics. That is, if an act is legal then it must be ethical and if an act is illegal then it must be unethical.

I hate this. I hate this more than almost anything. They’re basically saying that things are right or wrong based on whether enough rich fuckers paid for enough politicians to vote for it.

gorehound (profile) says:

Personally I am very glad to see Sony hacked and cracked.Damn MAFIAA Company can go down in flames for all I care.Remember how these bastards illegally installed rootkits on people’s computers ? How Sony pressures other Nations into agreements which do nothing for their people.How Sony bribes Politicians Worldwide.What about all the shady accounting these assholes do.How about their DRM …………… Copyright Maximalist pieces of shit.

I look forward to reading more….and seeing Sony get their face wiped in poop over and over.

Good Job GOP !

tqk (profile) says:

So, Assange is cleared?

Should we be expecting the editors of the NY Times to be holing up in the Equadorian embassy soon?

Bradley/Chelsea Manning stole classified secrets, was convicted and sent to prison. Assange released said stolen info which the supremes say is okay? Why’s he holed up in the Equadorian embassy again? Other than “concocted rape” charges, I know, but does he need to fear the US gov’t wrath for releasing Manning’s trove of state secrets? The supremes say no, yes?

Anonymous Coward says:

Mr Cameron said he wanted internet companies to take the same moral responsibility as if someone overheard a group planning a bombing in a pub.

Except, in this case, this “someone”, “overhears” EVERY “pub conversation” ever…….i.e yet again, MORE surveilance

WTF are these “guys” gonna be PUNISHED, they’ve gotten away with FAR to much already

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