Sony asks news channels to stop reporting from leaked documents

Sony Pictures Entertainment has called on news outlets to stop disclosing material from a devastating computer hack as its studio chief made plans to meet a civil-rights leader after an email exchange that had racial undertones was exposed.

In a letter dated 14 December, attorney David Boies wrote to news organisations, including Bloomberg News and The New York Times, that media companies needed to destroy the stolen information and would be held responsible for damages from its publications.

Sony Pictures ''does not consent to your possession, review, copying, dissemination, publication, uploading, downloading, or making any use of the stolen information, and to request your cooperation in destroying the stolen information,'' Boies wrote.

Sony ''will have no choice but to hold you responsible for any damage or loss,'' in the event of compliance failure.

The Sony Corp unit was widening its efforts to stem damage from the release of employee salaries, health records, movie stars' fees and e-mails never intended for public consumption.

NYT spokeswoman Eileen Murphy said, "Any decisions about whether or how to use any of the information will take into account both the significance of the news and the questions of how the information emerged and who has access to it."

Disclosures from the internal documents had led to turmoil at the studio, a unit of Japan's Sony Corp, as discussions key to the company's future were made public. The unidentified hackers, for instance released troves of documents that included employee salaries and financial information, marketing plans and contracts with business partners.

In addition, the documents that have emerged included an exchange in which co-chairman Amy Pascal joked about president Barack Obama's race. After media outlets reported that, Pascal subsequently issued a public apology for "insensitive and inappropriate" emails.

In a memo to staff seen by Reuters on 2 December, Sony acknowledged that a large amount of data was stolen by the hackers but declined to confirm specific documents.

Meanwhile, over the weekend, in a message, a group styled Guardians of Peace, claimed it had carried out the cyber-attack on Sony, and warned of additional disclosures.

"We are preparing for you a Christmas gift," said the message posted on a site for sharing files called Pastebin. "The gift will be larger quantities of data. And it will be more interesting."