Sony Asks Media to Destroy Data as Sharpton Meeting Looms

Sony Pictures EntertainmentSony Pictures Entertainment (SNE) requested that news outlets stop disclosing material from a devastating computer hack as its studio chief made plans to meet a civil-rights leader after the exposure of a racially tinged e-mail exchange.

Media companies should destroy the stolen information and will be held responsible for damages from its publication, attorney David Boies wrote to news organizations, including Bloomberg News and the New York Times (NYT), in a Dec. 14 letter.


Sony Pictures "does not consent to your possession, review, copying, dissemination, publication, uploading, downloading or making any use of the stolen information, and to request your cooperation in destroying the stolen information," Boies wrote. Failure to comply means Sony "will have no choice but to hold you responsible for any damage or loss."


Over the weekend, hackers released more data and news outlets reported that the script and other details from the next movie in the James Bond spy series were stolen. In addition to the law firm Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP, Sony hired crisis public-relations adviser Rubenstein Communications Inc. to aid in its response and technology security firm Mandiant to help the investigation.


The stolen information includes material covered by U.S. and foreign legal doctrines protecting attorney-client privilege and attorney work-product, Boies said in the letter to the news publishers. The Sony Corp. (6758) unit is widening its efforts to stem damage from the release of employee salaries, health records, movie stars' fees and e-mails never intended for public consumption. Among those whose words have come back to haunt her is studio chief Amy Pascal, who last year bantered in an e-mail exchange with producer Scott Rudin about whether U.S. President Barack Obama might favor movies with black casts.


Pascal plans to meet the Reverend Al Sharpton this week, Sharpton's spokeswoman, Jacky Johnson, said in an e-mail. Pascal, who runs Sony's film studio as co-chairman of the unit, called her own words "insensitive and inappropriate" in a statement last week, and Rudin also apologized. Investigators into the unprecedented cyber-attack have linked it to "The Interview," a comedy that depicts the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and is set for release on Christmas Day.


The hack reaches to the highest level of the parent company based in Tokyo. CEO Hirai personally approved scenes in "The Interview" and gave instructions to tone down the scene depicting the Korean leader's fiery death, according to e-mails made public by the hackers.


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