WASHINGTON — A lawyer representing Sony Pictures Entertainment is warning news organizations not to publish details of company files leaked by hackers in one of the largest digital breaches ever against an American company.
The Sony materials include studio financial records, employment files and what already has been revealed as salacious gossip by Hollywood executives about President Barack Obama and some of the industry's big stars and upcoming films.
Attorney David Boies, a prominent lawyer hired by the company, demanded Sunday that Sony's "stolen information" — publicly available on the Internet by the gigabytes — should be returned or destroyed immediately because it contains privileged, private information. Boies said the studio could sue for damages or financial losses related to Sony's intellectual property or trade secrets.
Sony "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," according to one letter sent to the Hollywood Reporter newspaper and obtained by the website Gawker, which also received a letter.
Boies hinted at legal action if organizations "used or disseminated" the material "in any manner." The New York Times also received a letter, the newspaper reported Sunday.
Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet said on the newspaper's website Monday that it was a "disservice" to pretend the Sony documents weren't revealing and public. But he nonetheless said their newsworthiness didn't rise to the level of the Pentagon Papers or WikiLeaks affairs. Both resulted in disclosures of classified documents about U.S. government activity.
Boies did not immediately return emails requesting comment Monday.
Other highly sensitive material from the Sony hacking is being leaked almost daily, including exchanges between Oscar-winning producer Scott Rudin and Sony co-chairman Amy Pascal that contained a frank assessment of Angelina Jolie's talent and racially offensive jokes about Obama's presumed taste in movies.
The leaks also included an early version of the screenplay for the new James Bond movie "SPECTRE." The producers at Britain's EON productions said Saturday they are concerned that third parties who received the screenplay might seek to publish it, and they warned the material is subject to copyright protection around the world.
Associated Press writer Danica Kirka contributed to this report from London.