After sitting quietly while websites embarrass Sony executives publishing intimate emails with secrets and sometimes harsh and salacious reveals on talent and projects, Sony Pictures finally began to stand up for itself. Sony Pictures Entertainment chairman Amy Pascal went public to explain her side of being in the website cross hairs. She and Michael Lynton today addressed the Sony troops and tried to rally their flagging spirits. And oh, yeah, legal counsel David Boies put media on notice that there might be lawsuit repercussions for sites trafficking in stolen dish, possibly hacked and dispersed to media to punish Sony for making The Interview, the comedy that depicts North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as a buffoon who comes to an untimely demise. Reactions to the letter have varied. Some felt that the threat of litigation and lawyer fees could put a necessary chill in websites that might question their ruthlessness because they don’t have the resources to defend against a legal fight; others feel that First Amendment protections make Boies’ threats a lot of hooey, despite what pretend media expert Aaron Sorkin wrote in his NYT Op-ed; and others felt that invoking the threat of high priced lawyers revokes Sony’s victim sympathy card, and reminds that while other studios bolstered firewalls after the Target hack, a leading global technology conglomerate did an unbelievably bad job protecting itself from hackers, while saving money with layoffs that decimated its IT staff.
Here’s the full text of the Boies’ letter sent to legal counsel of publications all over, we presume. Should it make all of us quake with fear, or is it like reading the legal warning on that tag of a mattress you’re just dying to tear off, just because you’ve been told not to?
December 14. 2014
RE: Your Possession of Privileged and/or Confidential Information Stolen From Sony Pictures Entertainment
Dear General Counsel:
As you are no doubt aware, Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) has been the victim of a theft of data stored on its computers. As you may also be aware, in an on-going campaign explicitly seeking to prevent SPE from distributing a motion picture, the perpetrators of the theft have threatened SPE and its staff and are using the dissemination of both private and company information for the stated purpose of materially harming SPE unless SPE submits and withdraws the motion picture from distribution.
We have reason to believe that you may possess, or may directly or indirectly be given, illegally obtained documents or other information stolen from SPE (the “Stolen Information”), pursuant to the perpetrators’ scheme. The Stolen Information includes, but is not limited to, documents and information protected under U.S. and foreign legal doctrines protecting attorney-client privileged information, attorney work product, and related privileges and protections, as well as private financial and other confidential information and communications of SPE”s current and former personnel and others, confidential personnel data, intellectual property, trade secrets and other business secrets and related communications, and other confidential information.We are writing to ensure that you are aware that SPE does not consent to your possession, review, copying, dissemination, plubication, uploading, downloading, or making any use of the Stolen Information, and to request your cooperation in destroying the Stolen Information.
As soon as you suspect you may have possession of any of the Stolen Information, we ask that you promptly:
1) notify us using the contact information provided below:
2) take all reasonable actions to prevent your company and any of your employees, independent contractors, agents, consultants, or anyone who may have access to your files from examining, copying, disseminating, distributing, publishing, downloading, uploading or making any other use of the Stolen Information;
3) arrange for and supervise the destruction of all copies of the Stolen Information in your possession or under your control, particularly information protected under U.S. and foreign legal doctrines protecting attorney-client privileged communications, attorney work product, and related privileges and protections, as well as private financial and other confidential information and communications of SPE’s current and former personnel and others, confidential personnel data, intellectual property, trade secrets and other business secrets and related communications; and
4) confirm that such destruction has been completed.
In addition, if you have provided the Stolen Information to anyone outside of your company, we ask that you provide them with a copy of this letter, and request the destruction of the Stolen Information by the recipient.
To discuss matters concerning the Stolen Information, please contact me at (email address redacted by Deadline) or (phone number redacted by Deadline).
If you do not comply with this request, and the Stolen Information is used or disseminated by you in any manner, SPE will have no choice but to hold you responsible for any damage or loss arising from such use or dissemination by you, including any damages or loss to SPE or others, and including, but not limited to, any loss of value of intellectual property and trade secrets resulting from your actions.
If you have previously had access to or received Stolen Information and have exercise restraint with regard to its publication, use or dissemination, SPE and its employees are sincerely grateful to you and ask for your continued exercise of restraint.
Please not that this letter is provided to you without prejudice and does not purport to address all facts and issues concerning the Stolen Information. SPE expressly reserves all rights, remedies, claims and defenses available to it under applicable law.
Thank you for your anticipated and immediate cooperation regarding this important matter.