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Sony Your Rights Online

Sony Sends DMCA Notices Against Users Spreading Leaked Emails 138

Dangerous_Minds writes Last week, Sony threatened legal action against users spreading information obtained through the e-mails that were leaked as a result of the Sony hack. Sony has begun carrying through with those threats. Twitter, after resisting demands that a user account be suspended for publishing leaked e-mails, has received a DMCA notice saying that the e-mails are, weirdly enough, copyrighted.
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Sony Sends DMCA Notices Against Users Spreading Leaked Emails

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  • And screw Sony...

    Considering how copyright law is being applied, the emails probably are.

  • Perjury (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 01, 2015 @02:21AM (#48710201)

    No, the weird part is not that they claim the emails are copyrighted. The weird part is them claiming they own the copyright. While it's almost certainly true that most the email would be considered work-for-hire and hence default to Sony Pictures, it's also a good bet that there's plenty of emails that are personal in nature and would fall into the camp of abuse of network services by their users but that would simultaneously amount to the point that the emails were copyrighted by the actual sender and not Sony Pictures.

    And that alone would seem grounds enough to move against them for perjury charges since as been pointed out many times, you can't legally send a takedown notice over a copyrighted work that you don't own the copyright on. So, I can't send take down notices for "The Interview" but if I made a game called Interviewers and had a bot that send auto take down notices that accidentally flagged "The Interview" over my Interviewers copyright, that'd be okay. Of course, either way I could be sued, but it wouldn't be outright illegal in the latter case.

    Not that I think Sony Pictures gives a fuck. Hmm..is that libel? Nah, that's just an opinion.

    • by raymorris ( 2726007 ) on Thursday January 01, 2015 @02:44AM (#48710261) Journal

      Let me startbby saying, "rootkit" Sony sucks. With that out of the way:

      The emails mentioned in TFA appear to be business emails from Sony people. Did they send a DMCA notice about any personal emails? Did I miss that somewhere?

      Regarding perjury, the DMCA doesn't say that any erroneous or improper notice is perjury. The perjury clause refers to identifying yourself. If I were to send a DMCA notice about content owned by Dice, claiming to be a representative of Dice, that claim that I am Dice's representative would be under penalty of perjury. I'd be in trouble because I'm not actually a representative of Dice.

      Any other deficiency in a DMCA notice is likely to be grounds for a civil suit, only, based on damages. It might be tortiuous interference, for example. It wouldn't be perjury.

      • by HiThere ( 15173 )

        IIRC, the DMCA only requires that you have a "good faith belief" that you control the copyright in order for mistaken use to be allowable without punishment. That's a pretty hard thing to disprove. And, also IIRC, a lawyer is allowed to have a "good faith belief" that his client is telling him the truth even if said client has a very long history of lying. (Did a lawyer actually issue the request? It's often done that way.) In that case the client risks NOTHING, except being refused.

        So why *wouldn't* S

    • by Anonymous Coward

      In addition, the copyright of any emails received from thrid parties do not belong to Sony. They belong to the originator of the emails.

    • I'd say that them claiming any sort of copyright is indeed weird, because it's not really a creative work. IANAL at all, but it seems to me like random emails simply fall well outside the domain of copyright. For the most part, they aren't creative or artistic in any way. The only way they could possibly be copyrightable is if you made the argument that they are "literary" works, but that's a stretch.
      • by msauve ( 701917 )
        You seem to be confusing "creative" with "artistic." US copyright covers "original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression." An email containing the author's own words is certainly creative. Nothing "weird" in any way about emails being subject to copyright. It has been well established that postal letters are covered by copyright, in what way are emails substantially different?
    • would fall into the camp of abuse of network services by their users

      Most companies allow limited, non-disruptive personal use of computers. Unless youre in a really sensitive job like CIA or something, people generally allow shooting a quick email to family during or after hours.

  • by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) * on Thursday January 01, 2015 @02:34AM (#48710231)

    Sure, copyrighted... Whatever. Seriously, these emails are relevant only to a relatively small number of people in the entertainment industry, so publishing them is really nothing more than a "fuck you" to Sony.

    • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Thursday January 01, 2015 @02:38AM (#48710245)
      is that this is exactly the sort of overreach of intent that people said would happen with the DMCA. There's a lot of dirt in those emails on Sony (like them coordinating with Attorneys General to attack Google). Much of that information falls under what used to be freedom of press. The DMCA screws all that. Now anything you don't want making the rounds you just copyright and an ironclad and unquestionable law shuts it down instantly. I believe the phrase is "Chilling Effect"...
      • Email can be said to be a copyrighted work. They are also distributed only to one person, other person do not have the distribution right. Distirbution right is given temporary to an itnermediate to facilitate the email reaching its goal. Frankly I will take the contrary direction : DMCA is over reaching in all case, but using it for email is not an overreach.
      • Sony can clean up their search results in Europe by (ab)using the "Right To Be Forgotten".
      • by ljw1004 ( 764174 ) on Thursday January 01, 2015 @05:35AM (#48710665)

        You've got the wrong handle on DMCA...

        1. It criminalizes the creation of software designed to circumvent copyright. That's not happening here.

        2. It grants"safe harbor" to ISPs and companies against violations*BY THEIR USERS* so long as the company has a takedown & dispute resolution mechanism. In this case Sony claims copyright, and Twitter can absolve itself of responsibility by leaving the user in question to be the one to file a counterclaim (presumably on fair-use grounds)

        • in order to qualify for the "Safe Harbor" part you have to take down the "infringing" content immediately. No questions asked. Only _after_ you take it down can the person who put it up apply to have it put back up.

          It makes it really easy to get stuff silenced and much harder to get it back out there; especially for quasi-legal journalistic sources like leaks.
      • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

        This doesn't seem particularly related to the DMCA, except for the ability to send a take-down notice instead of a lawsuit.

        Circumstances such as these are why the principle of fair use has existed since the 1700s. In US law:

        Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 17 U.S.C. 106 and 17 U.S.C. 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teach

  • by aaron4801 ( 3007881 ) on Thursday January 01, 2015 @02:35AM (#48710233)
    Reporting on the emails is classic fair use.
    • by wvmarle ( 1070040 ) on Thursday January 01, 2015 @02:55AM (#48710287)

      There is a difference between reporting, and wholesale redistribution. Reporting is fair use, but that's not happening (much). Wholesale redistribution is certainly not fair use, and Sony can indeed claim such redistribution violates copyright.

      Now the interesting thing is going to be (if this ever gets challenged in court): who owns the copyright over those e-mails? Is it Sony as employer, or are it the individual authors of those e-mails? The received e-mails are certainly not copyright Sony, the copyright on those is owned by those who sent them to Sony employees.

      In principle, everything falls under copyright. Even these comments. However by posting it on a public board, we implicitly give Slashdot permission to redistribute it. An e-mail I send to the feedback section of a newspaper also comes with the implicit permission to print and redistribute it in the newspaper. An e-mail one sends to Sony or someone else, however, does normally not have such a permission - it's hard to argue implicit permission to redistribute. This sidestepping the obvious privacy related to e-mail, which is generally meant to be read by the recipient(s) only.

      • by Kjella ( 173770 )

        However by posting it on a public board, we implicitly give Slashdot permission to redistribute it. An e-mail I send to the feedback section of a newspaper also comes with the implicit permission to print and redistribute it in the newspaper.

        Two different kinds of implicit, one is much weaker than the other. In one case the terms are also implicit, I could have just sent the email to the wrong address. What about editing for size, can they do that though it no longer fully expresses your opinion? It's all up in the air. Boards and feedback forms are usually different, they typically have an explicit agreement that you agree to through:

        a) User registration
        b) Checking a box
        c) Submitting/uploading content
        d) Terms of the site

        I'm pretty sure that if

        • While they can write anything in the site's TOS, it may not be legally enforceable depending on where you live. For example I'm not in anyway confirming that I have read the terms when I'm posting this comment, which means it is probably not legally binding in EU. Even if I had to confirm that I agree with the ther terms they may not be legally enforceable as EU has some quite strict laws about unfair contracts.
      • by c ( 8461 )

        Now the interesting thing is going to be (if this ever gets challenged in court): who owns the copyright over those e-mails?

        A better question, if this ever gets challenged in court, is who registered the copyrights?

        IANAL, but my understanding is that for a copyright lawsuit in the USA to go anywhere, the "work" has to be registered with the copyright office. No registration, no lawsuit, do not pass "Go".

        Which, practically speaking, means a DMCA complaint on something like an e-mail (which is unlikely to be

        • Registration is not necessary, but it does make things a lot easier if you indeed have to defend a copyright.

    • Reporting on the emails is classic fair use.

      Not really. The fair use provision here is if the copyrighted work is newsworthy. The fact that the emails have been leaked is big news, but the emails themselves are not necessarily newsworthy.

      If the emails are just boring everyday emails of people at work, then copyright would still apply. Ironically, if the email were scandalous or embarrassing to Sony, then it would be fair use to publish them because the revelation would be newsworthy. So all a DMCA n

      • almost any commentary on perhaps several related emails should make significant portions fair use.
  • Why hasn't the dump been posted? years ago, there would of been 5 links to the data to sift thru in every article posted for consumption here.

  • They must be small emails if someone can send them in tweet.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      They must be small emails if someone can send them in tweet.

      Sony employees communicate exclusively in Haiku.

  • by Required Snark ( 1702878 ) on Thursday January 01, 2015 @03:24AM (#48710361)
    They clearly are more concerned about the publicity aspects of the hack then anything else. Any other issues, like exposure of employee data, don't mean a damn to them.

    That's why there are the DCMA takedown notices and the threats to sue. They figure that if they can keep it out of the press then it will soon be forgotten and they won't have much to worry about.

    This might work for the general public, but in Hollywood it's not going to be that easy. Besides the powerful individuals that they trashed, it's now obvious that that they also engage in routine conspiracies to get what they want. That's what the Google maneuver was about. A lot of players are going to realize that Sony had done a lot of dirty deeds already, and some will see that previous problems may be the result of underhanded tactics. Not that anyone else is better, but having confirmation effectively raises the stakes.

    Personally, I enjoy looking forward to some real pain in Sony land. They have a bad reputation among the Hollywood rank and file, so there will be a lot of schadenfreude in the new year. It's long overdue.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It's all about stopping the Hollywood Accounting facts making it to the real press. They don't care about senior staff making nigger jokes about the president, but they
      are terrified the illegal financial dealings practised by the industry will prove prosecutors with enough data to start hauling CEOs into court facing RICO charges.

      Sony have successfully persuaded large media outlets to remove or change what's being discovered. It's pretty scary just how they can manage this, it makes you wonder what dirt the

  • by Anonymous Coward

    If emails are copyrighted materials, we may suddenly get the backing of giant industries in the fight against the villains at the NSA.
    After all you wouldn't want "personal emails" to be a perfectly acceptable thing to copy and redistribute...

    • by ledow ( 319597 )

      Emails are copyrighted already.

      Everything you make is copyrighted, to you.

      That people don't understand this is, "weirdly", common.

      The question of whether you could enforce action against infringers and/or whether reproducing those emails is against the copyright is another thing entirely and down to local law.

      But, pretty much, this post is copyrighted. There may be a line somewhere that assigns the copyright in it to Slashdot (I don't think there is, Facebook tried that and couldn't get away with it), but

  • by MikeRT ( 947531 ) on Thursday January 01, 2015 @03:57AM (#48710425)

    They'll suspend the accounts of people like Milo Yiannopoulos for holding the wrong views on things like GamerGate (Milo Yiannopoulos is hardly a troll or a stalker), but someone who is trafficking in stolen IP/personal details they'll reluctantly defend until someone from legal tells them that Twitter will probably get its ass reamed up and down the sidewalk in federal court if it continues to turn a blind eye. Got it.

    • "Stolen"? "IP"? The data was copied, not stolen. And using propaganda terms like IP here just seems totally inappropriate. The DMCA is a law created by government thugs for the purposes of making it easier for companies to censor information on demand under threat of force (websites lose safe harbor if they don't comply, which is bad for them).

  • by jonwil ( 467024 ) on Thursday January 01, 2015 @04:02AM (#48710439)

    Is there a list anywhere of Sony produced films hitting theaters in 2015 so I know which films to boycott and not go and see?

    I know The Interview is Sony (not that I had any intention of going to see it anyway) and Hobbit is Warner Brothers/New Line (saw it the other day and it was great) but I cant find any information to help me figure out what other theatrical releases of 2015 I should be avoiding (both going to the cinema AND pirating) if I want to avoid Sony.

    • by ruir ( 2709173 )
      Boycott all of them...To be honest, IMHO, the worst actors are Sony and Disney, however they are all the same scum and hide behind a MPAA label.
    • Is there a list anywhere of Sony produced films hitting theaters in 2015 so I know which films to boycott and not go and see?

      How long will it take you to visit Wikipedia or the IMDB before you buy tickets for a given film, to make sure it's not published by Sony?

    • Pixels. The screenplay was one of the leaked documents. It actually looked somewhat amusing, skimming through.

      Oh, well. To the torrents!

  • If you cut and paste this message I will raid your kid's college fund.

    Happy New Year!

  • Kim Jong-un since you have the fame, would you reap it and hack those SOB?
  • US government owes each person of the world several trillons because copyright infringment in that case. And if the US government don't comply with copyright laws, why the rest of the world should?
  • The more companies try to cram under the umbrella of DMCA, I feel, the more opposition to the DMCA notices will crop up. This may end up being a good thing. Sure, cram it all under DMCA - start spamming everyone you can with accusations not befitting of copyright violation, and it'll only water down the 'authentic' violation notices - perhaps authorities will throw the baby out with the bathwater when evaluating DMCA complaints.

  • It's not weirdly that email is copyright.. Everything you write is copyright by default, but you can offer it up 'for free'..

Stupidity, like virtue, is its own reward.

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