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Cyberattack on Sony Pictures could create possible legal issues

Just as consumers clamored for answers after the cyberattack on Target's computer system, so too may employees at Sony Pictures whose information was released recently due to similar cyberattacks. Some of our Los Angeles readers may have already heard about the attack that is believed to have been the work of North Korea, which has "repeatedly complained" about the plot of the movie "The Interview" because it jokes around with the idea of assassinating the country's 31-year-old leader.

The cyberattack is said to have brought Sony to a standstill as it not only deleted numerous files from Sony's systems but attackers also released untold amounts of data to the Internet, including personal employee information as well as unreleased films.

On top of the criminal aspect of this attack, there is another piece to this case that may be apparent to our readers as it has a lot to do with entertainment law.

As you can imagine, the release of not-yet-released films can result in considerable loss of revenue, something Sony relies on heavily to fulfill its end of contractual obligations with writers, producers and other entities within the entertainment industry. This could create contractual disputes, possibly even raising concerns about liability as well.

This attack may also raise concerns about Internet privacy and how the attack could affect the integrity of a person's intellectual property rights. It's entirely possible that the breach could open the door to copyright infringement, which could then lead to complex civil lawsuits down the road.

Because of the recentness of the attack, it's unclear if litigation could be in Sony's future or how such cases would be handled. The hope though is that the Sony addresses the challenge head on and is willing to seek a reasonable resolution if and when the time comes.

Source: The Washington Post, "Sony Pictures hack appears to be linked to North Korea, investigators say," Ellen Nakashima et al, Dec. 3, 2014

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