Sony Pictures has reportedly demanded that at least three media outlets stop reporting stories based on documents obtained by hackers who crippled the entertainment giant's computer systems last month.
The New York Times, Variety, and The Hollywood Reporter each published stories late Sunday claiming that they had received letters from Sony attorney David Boies saying the documents were "stolen information." The letter also demanded that the outlets either avoid the hacked documents or destroy them if they had already been obtained.
Sony Pictures "does not consent to your possession, review, copying, dissemination, publication, uploading, downloading or making any use" of the documents, The Times quoted Boies's letter to them as saying.
Boies's letter was backed up by screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, who published an opinion piece in The Times Monday criticizing entertainment journalists for publishing stories based on the hacked data. Sorkin specifically singled out Variety co-editor-in-chief Andrew Wallenstein, who defended stories the publication wrote about the leaks as "newsworthy."
"I’m dying to ask [Wallenstein]," Sorkin wrote, "what part of the studio’s post-production notes on [writer-director] Cameron Crowe's new project is newsworthy."
The studio's internal computer network was breached on Nov. 24 by a group calling itself the Guardians of Peace. It has been suspected that the group has ties to North Korea, which has repeatedly complained about Sony's upcoming comedy release "The Interview," which centers on an assassination attempt against Kim Jong-un. A Pyongyang spokesman denied that the regime played any part in the hack attack earlier this month, but did characterize the breach as a "righteous" event.
The breach has resulted in several weeks worth of embarrassing publicity for Sony, as the hackers made public information about company salaries and business negotiations. Most prominently, a private e-mail conversation between studio co-chairwoman Amy Pascal and producer Scott Rudin included racist remarks about President Barack Obama's movie preferences and insulting barbs directed at actress Angelina Jolie and other big Hollywood names by Rudin.
Among the many projects discussed in the emails was the long-delayed, Sorkin-penned, Rudin-produced biopic of Apple founder Steve Jobs.
The Hollywood Reporter said Sunday that the hackers sent journalists an eighth batch of Sony files, including the e-mail inbox of Sony Pictures Releasing International President Steve O'Dell, which included discussions of how to promote "The Interview."