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.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."
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.
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.