Sony Demands Twitter User Remove Posts Containing Images Of Leaked Documents

from the goddamn-nails-everywhere!-hand-me-my-hammer! dept

Sony’s lawyer, David Boies, recently made an attempt to silence media outlets’ coverage of leaked Sony documents. Without stating any legal basis for Sony’s demands, Boies’ letter ordered journalists to stop reporting on the leaked documents, destroy whatever they had in their possession (as if that effort would make any difference…) and sit on their hands until they received further instructions on what was/wasn’t of “public interest” from the studio itself.

Needless to say, the only thing this cease-and-desist managed to do was increase the amount of criticism heaped on Sony’s head. Boies presumably is still employed by Sony, as are whichever executives signed off on this suicidal move.

Sony’s legal team is still hoping to shut people up, but it appears to be casting a far wider net. Jason Koebler at Vice reports that a musician who has performed his own digging into the leaked Sony docs and posted the interesting bits to his Twitter account has received legal threats from the studio.

Val Broeksmit, a California-based musician, has been combing through gigabytes worth of documents and has been tweeting out screenshots of leaked emails that he finds newsworthy for a couple weeks now. Amongst those are emails that talk about green lighting upcoming films, paying actors to tweet about films, emails sent to Sony by the purported hackers of the company (the “Guardians of Peace”), and internal bickering.

Last week, Elliott Ingram, a copyright specialist who works with Sony in the United Kingdom, reached out to warn him that if he did not delete the posts, the company would have to ask Twitter to do it for them.

This polite person-to-person request from Ingram was ignored by Broeksmit, despite the fact that it (politely) bandied about a number of legal terms for scariness’ sake, like “trade secrets,” “copyright” and “privacy laws.” Broeksmit says he ignored it because it “didn’t come from a Sony Pictures email account.”

Because Broeksmit failed to cave, the threats have escalated. Gone is the cheery and accommodating British politeness. In its place is a rehash of the threatening letter sent to journalists last week, full of demands and excess capital letters (“Stolen Information,” etc.)

And once again, one of the studio’s lawyers (Sean Jaquez) asks for an ultimately meaningless gesture as a sign of compliance/good faith.

The email asks Broeksmit to delete his tweets and to “arrange for and supervise the destruction of all copies of the Stolen Information in your possession [and to] confirm that such restriction has been completed.”

Sure, Sony doesn’t actually care if any deletion actually occurs. (Well, it cares a little.) What it wants is a leak-free future. But Broeksmit isn’t caving, even if his grasp on the legality of his sharing might be a bit shaky.

“I’m not with a newspaper and I think I can get away with it,” he said. “It’s important—the reason is it’s so new and different from anything we’ve seen before. This is a billion dollar company being made bare to the public. It’s crazy I have these emails, and it’s fascinating to learn how these companies work.”

Confidence is a great thing, but a private citizen generally finds his/her rights to be a bit diminished as compared to the press, rather than vice versa.

Ultimately, it appears Sony will have to talk Twitter into removal of these tweets rather than going straight to the source. It made two pitches and missed with both. Now, it remains to be seen whether Twitter will view Broeksmit’s document screenshots are actually infringing on Sony’s copyrighted material. As of now, the disputed tweets are still up… and Sony’s reputation is still sliding in a downward direction.

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Companies: sony pictures

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Comments on “Sony Demands Twitter User Remove Posts Containing Images Of Leaked Documents”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Sony ‘wants is a leak-free future’ but considering what it appears to have NOT done over the years to protect itself and the various parts of it’s business, it seems extremely silly to expect, let alone want the leak-free future. as for what is happening here to Val Broeksmit, i would have thought that Sony and it’s legal team would have known for certain that to threaten people with legal action when there is no legal action that can be taken would only lead to good old ‘Streisand’ rearing it’s ugly head!
it so pisses people off when something happens to a big company that it doesn’t like but cant do much about how it has to use it’s size as a means to commit just as illegal an action as started it off in the first place!

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Sony wants a leak-free future..then perhaps it should sack ALL of its IT team and stop pissing away money on people who obviously know NOTHING about security.

I’m pretty sure they already tried the ‘sack the IT team’ tactic, and if they want to ‘stop pissing away money on people who obviously know NOTHING about security’, they’d need to fire the company execs, not the IT people.

Or to put it another way, it doesn’t do you much good to have the employee tell his boss that they need to put locks on the doors, if the boss ignores them and/or refuses the request because ‘That would be too costly and require people to go through the hassle of carrying a set of keys everywhere’.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Value of tweets

That… actually might work to some extent. If you can’t silence them with bogus legal threats, buy them out and shut them up that way.

However, while large companies like Sony may be quite practiced at buying politicians, I doubt it would occur to them to do the same with individuals blogger/twitter users. They’ll probably continue with the stick, to save the money the carrot would take.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Value of tweets

Nice thought, but wouldn’t work. Once word got out that Sony was divvying out hush money everyone and their granny would be digging through those emails and posting the juicy bits on twitter.

What you’re proposing is like trying to put out a fire with gasoline, or selling your cow so you can buy milk.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Press

“press” is not capitalized in the US Constitution. It is about the action, not the person or institution.

Press is actually means a printing press, and freedom of the press means no government control of what was printed, and by extension to modern technology, what is made public, that is published. Allowing the statement to interpreted as the press, that is news organizations is dangerous, as a right can the be removed from private citizens, on the ground that they are members of a press..

Anonymous Coward says:

Documents with internal bickering about upcoming films and release dates and whatnot doesn’t seem like the thing Techdirt would be interested in wasting our time with.

True that they might not be interested in internal bickering but what about them paying other 3ʳᵈ parties to initiate DDoS attacks? That’s plainly illegal by US law. If they are to benefit from US law even though they are not a US company then I damn well expect them to obey US law when it doesn’t benefit them.

The company is using hundreds of computers in Asia to execute what’s known as a denial of service attack on sites where its pilfered data is available, according to two people with direct knowledge of the matter.

This also gives you a clue where many file sharing sites have reported DDoS attacks, especially when some new movie has just come out. The coincidences speak for themselves given this.

Anonymous Coward says:

No wonder they think they will be bankrupt soon when they pay $2m for a freaking TWEET. But blaming piracy for that is just rude.

Even as an actor I’d feel cheated. They get what? $10m for a movie? Why the effort if they could just send 5 tweets? And as a normal person who might earn $50’000 a year well… work for 40 years and you earn as much as a guy earns with a tweet. Sick

Anonymous Coward says:

With the involvement of MPAA and state AG’s, the line between gov’t and private business are pretty mushy. There’s a few other private businesses that would be very interesting if they were subject to a hack.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the universe, Washington DC is acting as this was a “crime” when the other 90% or split between wanting to see a new movie, ironically thinking N.Koreans might be whistleblowers, or laughing at how so many can be so clueless about the internet after 20 years to get used to it. Still.

This is why I don’t want surveillance or anyone storing my data.

Steve R. (profile) says:

Sony itself a cyber bully

Sony simply made the mistake of taking on someone (North Korea) who had the capability to fight back. One piece of collateral damage was the release of some of Sony’s private documents. One might have sympathy for Sony if they had respect for the privacy and property rights of their customers. Sony doesn’t. What goes around comes around. It came to Sony.

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