July 19, 2012 6:56pm PT by Eriq Gardner , Borys Kit
Marvel Investigating 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Media Leak
Marvel Studios is taking action against a leak of information about a pair of its upcoming movies.
Latino Review, the website that first revealed Marvel's plans to make Guardians of the Galaxy for release in 2014, has now published an e-mail from an unnamed Marvel "security consultant" investigating how the information reached the media ahead of a planned reveal at Comic-Con last weekend.
The investigator is Robert Grosser, who is vp of loss prevention at Marvel. In the letter, Grosser demands the source of "confidential, non-public information concerning Iron Man 3 and Guardians of Galaxy."
Grosser goes on to say that Marvel execs are "extremely upset" about the leak and have authorized him to find out the source. "If you provide me with your source, I will make it worth your effort," he writes.
A Marvel spokesperson had no comment.
Sources say the company, which has produced some of the biggest Hollywood blockbusters in recent years, has been hit with a series of intellectual property thefts recently, including stolen scripts and images. In trying to protect its content, this type of form letter is usually sent out.
Insiders say that Marvel's head of security may not have known that Latino Review was a journalistic site.
Latino Review's writer ridicules what it sees as condescension and adds that the e-mail didn't deserve a response "because I've done nothing wrong. A representative of my favorite comics house just stepped into my life with no legal authority to demand anything and threatened my career for doing my job well."
The episode calls to mind efforts made by Apple more than eight years ago to identify the source of new Apple products to several online news sites, including AppleInsider.
Apple sued anonymous John Does in California, claiming the theft of trade secrets, and then served subpoenas on the websites, demanding information. The websites resisted, claiming the right to invoke journalists' shield privilege not to identify a source.
The case went up the appellate circuit, where the online websites were supported by a host of news organizations in amicus briefs. A lower court agreed with Apple that the websites shouldn't be granted a protective order against the subpoenas, but in 2006, the California Court of Appeal reversed the decision, saying that online journalists have the same rights as print ones and writing that to favor Apple would "empower betrayed employers to clothe themselves with the subpoena power."
If Marvel wishes to pursue the leak further, it would seemingly have to overcome that strong precedent. It might argue that the website writer wasn't an actual journalist and shouldn't deserve the benefit of journalistic shield. In the letter (below), Grosser writes about Latino Review being a "fanboy website," adding "Like many fans out there, you just wanted to be the first one to post something on the internet."
But Latino Review seems to know what it is doing, posting the letter under the headline, "Marvel Might Not Know What Reporting Is":
"My name is Rob Grosser and I am an independent security consultant working for Marvel. I have worked as a security consultant for Marvel since 1982. I am currently conducting an investigation on Marvel’s behalf regarding the dissemination of confidential, non-public information concerning Iron Man 3 and Guardians of the Galaxy. The executives at Marvel are extremely upset regarding the release of this information and they have instructed me to find you and ascertain how you received it. My goal is to accomplish this in a quiet manner. I do not want to see you or anyone else get into trouble nor do I want to see anyone’s career be tarnished because of this. However I am very confident that through your efforts and mine, we will be able to work through this together. I personally feel that you did not have any malicious intent when you posted your spoilers on the fanboy website. Like many fans out there, you just wanted to be the first one to post something on the internet. I get it, however the Iron Man 3 and Guardians of the Galaxy information was confidential and you did not have Marvel’s consent to post it. That was illegal!
If you provide me with your source, I will make it worth your effort. I want to work with you. As I stated above, I do not want to see you or anyone else get into trouble. That would be a lose-lose for everyone. I would hope that you are now realizing that this is a very serious matter and the consequences will be quite severe if I do not find out how you obtained the Iron Man 3 and Guardians of the Galaxy information.
My goal is to ascertain how you got the Iron Man 3 and Guardians of the Galaxy informationand make this go away. All information you provide will remain confidential, even your identity. Your source will never know. Let’s work together and make this happen before it is too late. To date, everyone I have worked with has not suffered any consequences. I do not want to see this situation get blown out of proportion. However if we do not work together, I will have no choice but to take this investigation to the next level and I will not stop until this investigation is completed.
Please get back to me with your thoughts and let me know how you would like to proceed. It is my goal to bring this matter to closure as quickly and quietly as possible. Thank you for your time and please get back to me as soon as possible.
If you would like to talk, you can reach me at [xxx-xxx-xxxx]
E-mail: email@example.com; Twitter: @eriqgardner