On Thursday, WikiLeaks released a searchable database on its website that contains more than 30,000 documents and 173,000 emails stolen from Sony Pictures Entertainment’s studio last year.
WikiLeaks, which has made a controversial name for itself for revealing confidential information from governments and large corporations into the public domain, published the material from Sony Pictures in a searchable format.
Wikileaks also said that it was empirical that the documents be released to the public as they highlighted Sony’s link to the White House and its “connections to the US military-industrial complex,” according to the release on its site.
According to USA Today, the disclosed documents comprise of connections between Sony and the Democratic Party, along with an email that asks executives to donate $50,000 for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo for his efforts to stop piracy, and information about Sony’s films and those produced by its rivals.
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Julian Assange, editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, wrote, “It is newsworthy and at the center of a geopolitical conflict.
“It belongs in the public domain. WikiLeaks will ensure it stays there.”
According to The New York Times, United States law enforcement officials said that the breach that occurred November last year was associated with the North Korean government. This was in revenge over Sony’s planned release of the Seth Rogen and James Franco starrer “The Interview,” which parodies the nation and ended with the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
However, legal repercussions of the posts depend on the copyright of the documents, according to Kevin Smith, who directs the Office of Copyright and Scholarly Communication at Duke University in Durham, N.C.
“The copyright is automatic, it literally follows the pen,” he said. The original copies of the documents could be copyrighted by their owners. Releasing the documents without seeking permission could be a violation of the copyright.
In a statement, Sony said it “vehemently disagrees” that the material should be made available to the public.
The statement said, “The cyber-attack on Sony Pictures was a malicious criminal act, and we strongly condemn the indexing of stolen employee and other private and privileged information on WikiLeaks. The attackers used the dissemination of stolen information to try to harm SPE and its employees, and now WikiLeaks regrettably is assisting them in that effort.”