As you may recall, late last fall, Sony Pictures Entertainment acknowledged that their entire IT infrastructure had been severely breached. At the time, the attackers were announced to be the North Koreans. But serious analysis absent political axes to grind has put that conclusion in doubt, to say the least. More evidence points to the actions of an unhappy employee/former employee and roughly half a dozen accomplices.
One of the things that the attackers did was release a huge cache of internal emails, emails that did not put anyone from within Sony in the best light. Who among us can say that the release of all our emails would treat us much better? Still, these were dumped onto public sites, e.g., PasteBin.
Sony’s immediate response was to try to shut down the press from covering this aspect of the situation by sending legal-ish letters to all major media outlets, claiming that just because they were public didn’t mean that they could be reported. To understand how this is consistent with the First Amendment, I think you need a law degree and a fat paycheck from Sony. Needless to say, the folks at WikiLeaks were not impressed. They spent the next few months building everything that was released into a searchable archive. You can read about that site they just opened here.
Sony’s well-compensated lawyers have jumped right back into the fray, of course. Unable to do anything about the WikiLeaks site itself, they have once again taken their, um, peculiar understanding of Freedom of the Press to the medium of threatening letters directed at the press (sample here).
The website TechDirt received one of these letters, and wrote about that fact (coverage). Yeah, gossip about Julia Roberts is not truly newsworthy but there’s plenty in those emails that is. It’s worth noting that one of two Investigative Reporting Pulitzer Prizes just given out went to Eric Lipton, who also didn’t think much of Sony’s legal theory in this matter. Lipton used whatever he needed from that treasure trove. TechDirt has now made a formal response to Sony, which is rather amusing.
I know Sony likes when their work product makes us want to get popcorn and settle in, but I don’t think this is what they had in mind.