from the owning-facts dept
But you could see where some would argue that this is somehow unfair. As we've pointed out for years, however, you can't own a copyright on facts. The basic news of something is factual and not covered by copyright -- though some of the reporting on it could be covered by copyright. In fact, we've noted how interesting it is that movie studios often license news stories from newspapers or reporters, even though they don't need to. In many cases, they could make a movie based on the news without making a deal with the journalists, but they still choose to do so, because there are certain advantages in doing it that way -- including having the reporters who know the story well give input into the film. It's a pretty good example of how contractual deals can often work even when there's no underlying copyright to be had.
But this gets pretty interesting when it comes down to the Sony Hack. First, among the odd legal theories tossed out by Sony's high-priced lawyers, is that the hacked information is Sony's "stolen information," and thus it might claim some sort of ownership right to the information, should any movie portrayal show/discuss the content of the hacked documents. That argument would raise an interesting First Amendment problem. Second, Sony could try a variety of other (mostly questionable) means of trying to block someone else from making the movie, using anything from trademark to publicity rights of some of the people involved. If challenged in court, it seems unlikely that these reasons would hold up, but it could make it difficult for a non-Sony studio to make such a film.
And, of course, it seems doubtful that Sony itself would want to make the film -- especially not one that accurately portrays a company that has been hacked 56 times in 12 years and kept its passwords in a folder named "Passwords" at the time of the hack. So, instead, it's entirely possible that someone else might try to make the movie -- and Sony might use legal bluster to try to stop it. Which is too bad, because such a movie seems like it might be a lot more interesting than some of what's been coming out of Hollywood lately...