Sony Should Not Be Able to Tell Journalists What to Print

If there is something newsworthy in the hacked email trove that WikiLeaks, released the media has the right to tell the public

Sony wants journalists to ignore what they find in WikiLeaks’ treasure trove, but they will likely not do so. (Photo: Yuriko Nakao/Reuters)

Sony, which spent weeks holding itself out as a free speech martyr after North Korea allegedly hacked its emails, is now trying to do more damage to the spirit of the First Amendment than North Korea ever did. The corporation is using high-powered lawyers and lobbyists in an attempt to stifle the rights of media organizations to publish newsworthy information already in the public domain. Ironically, some of those emails include Sony and the MPAA’s attempts to censor the Internet on a much larger scale.

Sony’s lawyer, David Boies, has spent the week sending out a hyperbolic letter to various news organizations, pressuring them to avert their eyes from the hacked email trove that WikiLeaks published on its site last week. Boies, while misleadingly claiming that journalists could be breaking US law by even looking at the emails, also said if media organizations refused to write stories about them, they would somehow be “protecting the First Amendment.”

The head of the MPAA and former Democratic Senator Chis Dodd went a step further yesterday, outrageously suggesting the US government should go after WikiLeaks in some fashion for re-publishing the emails.

It’s quite fitting that the day before Dodd made his true feelings on press freedom be known, the 2015 Pulitzer Prize winners were announced. On the list was New York Times reporter Eric Lipton, who won a prize for his important investigative series on how private companies and their lobbyists are colluding with state attorneys general to pursue corporate agendas in secret. Lipton’s series, which prominently featured emails from the hacked Sony trove in one story, showed that the MPAA was attempting to lobby state attorneys general to censor companies like Google after its controversial SOPA legislation spectacularly failed in Congress in 2011.

This week there’s been more stories about Sony that they apparently don’t want you to read: Dodd’s recommendations to studio heads about to which of his Republican former colleagues they ought to direct their political donations; movie industry lobbying on behalf of a controversial trade agreement; how the rich and powerful get their children into Harvard; and how Sony executives pirated books about hacking despite their militant public anti-pirating stance.

Read the full article at The Guardian.

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Trevor Timm

Trevor Timm

Trevor Timm is a co-founder and the executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation. He is a writer, activist, and legal analyst who specializes in free speech and government transparency issues. He writes a weekly column for The Guardian and has also contributed to The Atlantic, Al Jazeera, Foreign Policy, Harvard Law and Policy Review, PBS MediaShift, and Politico. Follow him on Twitter: @TrevorTimm

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