Sony Tries Again to Make Twitter Delete Hacked Emails, But Twitter Isn't Budging

Sony still thinks it can hide its hacked emails from the world.

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Dec 25 2014, 5:50am

​Image: Jerome Kundrotas/Shutterstock

​Sony, Twitter, and a musician from California ​continue to be engaged in a tug-of-war over Sony's hacked emails. Sony has now filed at least 20 copyright takedown requests with the social media network, demanding that Twitter remove tweets containing screenshots from Sony's leaked email cache, according to emails obtained by Motherboard.

Twitter apparently isn't budging.

Of the 20 requests, Twitter has, thus far, only removed content from two tweets—one that contained a screenshot of a James Bond script, and another from a Twitter user in the Netherlands that I haven't been able to determine the contents of.

Meanwhile, 18 tweets containing screenshots from Sony's hacked emails remain on the site, despite there being ​Digital Millennium Copyright Act requests from Sony demanding that Twitter take them down. Those 18 tweets contain screenshots from Sony's hacked emails posted by Val Broeksmit, ​a musician who has been occasionally tweeting (generally) embarrassing info from the leaks.

A screenshot from he takedown request.

The requests were officially filed by Daniel Golden of Entura International, a company that Sony uses to deal with copyright issues. The company previously sent Broeksmit an email asking him to voluntarily remove the tweets. "Rather than complaining to Twitter and risk them taking action against your account, we thought we'd get in touch first and ask if you would remove the tweets that we've identified," the email said.

That tactic didn't work, so it moved forward with the official DMCA requests.

"There is a link on this site that allows for the transmission and/or downloading of the SPE Stolen Files, in violation of Rights Holder's exclusive rights under copyright law as to any copyrighted works contained in the SPE Stolen Files," Golden wrote in the takedown request, which was obtained by Motherboard from Broeksmit.

The only tweet of Broeksmit's that Twitter has deleted. Screenshot: Twitter

Twitter's decision to remove the James Bond script suggests that the company doesn't believe it's worth trying to defend itself when its users post clearly copyrighted content (say, a page from an unreleased movie script), but that it believes it can defend the posting of leaked emails. One possible defense is the fact that Broeksmit is commenting on the content contained in the emails, which could be a fair use of copyrighted material reserved for commentary.

Twitter notified Broeksmit late Wednesday about the requests to remove the emails, which Sony said "may also violate, among other things, your terms of service, trademark law, trade secrets law, and privacy law."

One other tweet was deleted; I haven't been able to confirm what it was yet. Screengrab: Twitter

It's a different (and more conventional) ​tactic than the one Sony tried earlier this week. On Monday, Sony lawyer David Boies wrote a letter to Twitter in which the company threatened to "hold Twitter responsible for any damages or loss arising from such use or dissemination [of hacked data] by Twitter." Sony said it'd take legal action if "stolen information continues to be disseminated by Twitter in any manner."

That certainly riled free speech types, and the well-known "Streisand Effect," wherein trying to delete something off the internet only fuels its spread, kicked into high gear. Broeksmit's earlier tweets have gotten hundreds of retweets, and he's received more than 15,000 followers thanks to the attention Sony's letter got.

This, and many other tweets containing email screenshots, remain on the site.

At the time, a Twitter spokesman wouldn't comment on the company's response, but noted that Broeksmit's tweets were still on the site, which suggests that the company is standing by its users' right to share these emails. The fact that the company has formally received, and thus far ignored, DMCA requests from Sony suggests that the social network's stance on this isn't changing.

I've reached out to both Sony and Twitter for further comment and will update this post if I hear back.

The Interview, by the way, ​opens in theaters today.