Are you going to bark all day little doggie? Sony’s attempt to muzzle media has no legal basis.

Are you going to bark all day little doggie? Sony’s attempt to muzzle media has no legal basis.

Is David Boies going to bark all day by sending cease and desist letters to media on behalf of Sony, warning them not to use leaked Sony e-mails and other documents in their reporting, or is he going to bite by seeking an injunction?

The WSJ reported in Sony Tells Media Not To Use Leaked Documents that Mr. Boies sent a letter to media outlets barking: “If you do not comply with this request and the Stolen Information is used or disseminated by you in any manner,” then, “[Sony pictures] will have no choice but to hold you responsible for any damage or loss arising from such use or dissemination by you.”

The U.S. Supreme Court, in Bartnicki v. Vopper, 532 U.S. 514 (2001), held that the a radio station could not be liable for broadcasting a story using stolen information so long as the station did not partake in the theft. This is not to say that the hack wasn’t a horrible invasion and breach of an American company’s privacy and security, respectively. It is to say that a dangerous precedent would be set if media was muzzled by the law — or put in fear by frivolous lawsuits — under such circumstances.

In Reservoir Dogs, the noir movie directed by Quentin Tarantino, Mr. White, played by Harvey Keitel, says to Mr. Blonde, played by Michael Madsen: “You almost killed me! Asshole! If I knew what kind of a guy you were I never would’ve agreed to work with you!” Mr. Blonde’s response: “Are you gonna bark all day little doggie? Or are you gonna bite?” Mr. White doesn’t bite. Nor will Mr. Boies.

That’s because the law is not on Sony’s side.

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