Sony threatens media outlets who report on hacked documents

Sony Corporation is in big trouble.  The thousands of hacked e-mails, documents, and videos have shown the rancid underbelly of the media conglomerate, and the monetary losses are beginning to add up, not to mention the loss of prestige and damage to their brand.

To stop the bleeding, Sony is now quietly threatening media outlets that report on the hacked documents.


The New York Times, The Hollywood Reporter and Variety published stories reporting that they had each received a letter from David Boies, an attorney for Sony, demanding that the outlets stop reporting information contained in the documents and immediately destroy them.

The studio "does not consent to your possession, review, copying, dissemination, publication, uploading, downloading or making any use" of the information, Boies wrote in the letter, according to the New York Times report.

A Sony spokesman had no comment on the reports. Representatives for Variety and The Hollywood Reporter could not immediately be reached via email on Sunday.

New York Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy said: "Any decisions about whether or how to use any of the information will take into account both the significance of the news and the questions of how the information emerged and who has access to it."

A spokesman for Boies confirmed he sent a letter to certain media outlets on behalf of Sony but declined to discuss details.

Disclosures from the internal documents have caused turmoil at the studio, a unit of Japan's Sony Corp, and shed light on internal discussions key to the company's future. For instance, the unidentified hackers have released troves of documents that include employee salaries and financial information, marketing plans and contracts with business partners.

In addition, the documents that have emerged included an exchange in which Co-Chairman Amy Pascal joked about President Barack Obama's race. After media outlets reported that, Pascal subsequently issued a public apology for "insensitive and inappropriate" emails.

Pascal is scheduled to meet this week with civil rights leader Reverend Al Sharpton, whose spokeswoman says he is weighing whether to call for her resignation. Pascal did not respond to a request for comment, and a Sony spokeswoman declined to comment on Pascal's future.

Sony, in a memo to staff seen by Reuters on Dec. 2, acknowledged that a large amount of data was stolen by the hackers but has declined to confirm specific documents.

Sony probably doesn't have a legal leg to stand on, considering the fact that the documents are on the internet and in the public domain.  But it doesn't appear that Sony's threats are to sue media outlets.  Sony could stop cooperating with publications like Variety and the Hollywood Reporter, freezing them out of the loop of gossip, inside info, and sneak peeks at current projects, which is the lifeblood of those entertainment publications.  It would be a significant loss to those enterainment publications, so Sony's threats carry some weight.

More worrisome to Sony should be the threat of the hackers to release more documents by Christmas.  Lord knows what other shockers they have in their possession, but whatever they have, it won't be good for Sony.

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