Sony Pictures Capitulation Sets a Worrying precedent
Sony has sent a letter to media organisations warning them to delete any of the hacked data downloaded after the devastating cyber-attack Reuters

Sony has sent a number of media organisations warning letters, telling them not to download any of the "stolen information" leaked by hackers and to delete any of the documents they may have already downloaded.

The letter was sent to a number of media outlets in the US, including New York Times, the Hollywood Reporter and website Re/Code.

The letter (which can be seen in full at the bottom of this page) said Sony Pictures "does not consent to your possession, review, copying, dissemination, publication, uploading, downloading, or making any use of the Stolen Information".

The stolen information the letter refers to is the huge trove of personal and financial information which has been leaked online by the hacking group called Guardians of Peace who carried out a devastating attack on the studio three weeks ago, and who have been consistently leaking documents, emails, and even unreleased Sony films since.

Christmas present

Over the weekend, the hackers posted more data from the "tens of terabytes" of stolen information and promised even bigger leaks were still to come:

"We are preparing for you a Christmas gift. The gift will be larger quantities of data. And it will be more interesting.The gift will surely give you much more pleasure and put Sony Pictures into the worst state. Please send an email titled by 'Merry Christmas' at the addresses below to tell us what you want in our Christmas gift."

The threats could mean the hackers are planning to release more damaging data at the same time as Sony is set to release "The Interview", the comedy film which pokes fun at North Korea and focuses on an assassination attempt on its leader Kim Jong-un.

The film is thought to be the main reason for the cyber attack with the hackers calling on Sony not to release the film.

This has led some to suspect that North Korea is behind the attack, though Sony Pictures has refused to explicitly blame the country.

Salacious gossip

The cyber-attack has been humiliating for Sony Pictures, with the leaks including details of demands from Hollywood A-listers like Angelina Jolie, the fees paid to stars like Seth Rogen and James Franco as well as racially insensitive remarks about US President Barack Obama and his preference for black-themed films - a revelation which led to a public apology from Sony Pictures executive Amy Pascal.

The call for media organisations to ignore the leaked documents is likely to fall on deaf ears as the internet's appetite for salacious gossip and insider information about Hollywood means that even if a number of publishers decide to accede to Sony's request, there will be hundreds of websites who won't.

The attacks periodically post links to stolen information on websites like Pastebin and then email a number of journalists to alert them to the latest dump. Journalists are then free to download the files and sift through them to find anything interesting or revelatory.

The full letter sent by Sony to media organisations in the US: