Sony sends pre-emptive threat letter to journalists

A lawyer retained by Sony has sent threat-letters to media outlets hinting at repercussions if they report on material in the huge dump of internal Sony docs from the North Korea hack that Wikileaks put online.

The letter makes the nonsensical claim that that writing about the leaks subverts the First Amendment and helps North Korea.

Journalists and others have mined the Wikileaks mirror of the Sony trove for interesting stories already — looking at the emails from Congressman-turned-MPAA-boss Chris Dodd in which he instructs studio heads on which politicians to bribe with hundreds of thousands of dollars in "campaign contributions" and the ironic news that Sony's servers hosted pirated copies of books on Internet security.

Techdirt received one of the letters and wrote an eloquent response:

So, David, Leah and Sony Corp. — our official response is: go pound sand.

Here's the really astounding thing: In December, Sony tried to turn this whole story into how the hack itself was an attack on free speech. It never was. Even if you believe the (incredibly dubious) story line that North Korea hacked Sony to try to prevent the company from showing a comedy about North Korea, the only "attack" on free speech came when Sony's top execs actually folded and originally agreed to not release the flick. It was only after being widely mocked that Sony worked out alternative plans and then tried to wrap itself in the flag and proclaim itself a true beacon of free speech.

But to take that "we're the bastions of free speech" and immediately turn it around and effectively threaten the media for reporting on newsworthy leaked content — something that is quite clearly protected by the First Amendment and with some pretty high-profile case law backing that up — just demonstrates how little Sony actually believes in free speech. Sony "supports" free speech when it's useful to make the company look good and then is willing to throw around a bunch of expensive legal FUD to try to intimidate the press, when actual free speech can be used to embarrass Sony.

Our Response To Sony Sending Us A Threat Letter For Reporting On The Company's Leaked Emails [Mike Masnick/Techdirt]