In an article title “Sony Pictures cautions press over hacking leaks” (December 15, 2014), BBC reported on the problems Sony has had with the hacking of its website, including the publication of private e-mails between celebrities. Subsequently North Korea was accused of, and sanctioned for, the hacking. But the end of the article also contain a quote from the media that bears citing:
According to Variety‘s Andrew Wallenstein, however, publishing the stolen data is “problematic but necessary” because it “is in the public domain” and “unavoidable”.
A look at the Variety article linked to in the BBC webpage reveals a self-serving interpreting of right and wrong.
What’s particularly problematic is that even were a publication to abstain from publishing leaked material, dozens of others will do so regardless. Unfortunately, the data is in the public domain for all to consume.
In other words, everyone is doing wrong, so Variety had no choice but to follow suit. This, sadly, is the attitude of too many people of late. The notion that something that happens to be public, publicized, published, or merely publicly available because of hacking or leaks makes it “public domain” shows a gross misunderstanding of the concept of public domain and a basic moral bankruptcy concerning the rights of content creators, including authors of private e-mail. This has been one result of the Internet revolution, and it is not likely to improve.