According to the publication, Sony Pictures Legal Affairs Vice President Daniel Yankelevits sent Google a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) notice asking the Silicon Valley giant to remove all of the WikiLeaks pages with emails released due to the Sony hack, or in other words, “delist the Wikileaks page with a search engine for all of the Sony Hack emails.” Unfortunately, the “legal affairs” executive appears to be unaware his request consists of “copyfraud.” Tech Dirtnotes it’s something a “‘legal affairs’ VP at a giant entertainment company would know about.”
In the request, which lists Sony Pictures Entertainment as the “copyright holder,” Yankelevits claims the notice was filed because, as he complained, “My salary is in Google due to Sony Hack.” In other words, Yankelevits used a personal reason to launch the broad request under his company’s name, prompting the legal “expert” to ignore the fact that DMCA requests deal solely with copyright law-related complaints.
According to TorrentFreak.com, “Yankelevits is neither the sender nor the recipient of the email, so even if copyright was an issue, the fact that his salary was exposed is totally irrelevant.”
Instead of simply acting out of personal concerns, TorrentFreak.com suggests, Sony wants “to censor” WikiLeaks with this request.
Thankfully for Julian Assange’s organization, Google has denied the request to remove the homepage of the leaked email archive — ultimately making matters worse by bringing media attention to Yankelevits’ salary.
TorrentFreak.com calls it a “classic example of the Streisand Effect.”
Looking even deeper into Sony Pictures Entertainment’s relationship with Washington, however, may give us a better idea of why a member of Sony’s legal team seems so invested in picking a fight with WikiLeaks — and why the company’s attempt to censor WikiLeaks might be politically motivated.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Sony Pictures Entertainment and its employees donate heavily to lawmakers and candidates. In 2000, Sony donated to Hillary Clinton when she was running for Senate, and since 1994, the company has spent almost $2 million on Washington politicians. Democrats have been the recipient of these donations in most of the cases. Yankelevits’ name even appears as a donor in 2010 and 2012.
Politico has reported that former Sony executive Howard Stringer is a member of “more than a dozen media organizations that have made charitable contributions to the Clinton Foundation in recent years.” Politicoalso observed the donations, “which range from the low-thousands to the millions, provide a picture of the media industry’s ties to the Clinton Foundation.” Michael Lynton, the chief executive who oversaw The Interview— the film at the center of the 2014 hack — and Sony Pictures Entertainment Co-Chairman Amy Pascal are also longtime supporters of President Barack Obama.
Tech Dirtreports that, while the Sony Pictures legal executive has filed a DMCA notice “so stupid that it fails to make a copyright claim, fails to list the infringing work, and instead points to the email he really wants taken down as the ‘original’ work, and demands a different URL (which doesn’t have the info he’s trying to hide) get taken down,” he may have also given us “some enlightenment into how a top lawyer at Sony Pictures actually recognizes that the DMCA is a tool for censorship.”