According to the popular site TorrentFreak, which tracks file sharing and BitTorrent news, Hollywood studios contain their fair share of music and movie pirates. A new story on the blog contends that despite their outspoken stance on the illegal copying and distribution of digital entertainment, Sony Pictures Entertainment, NBC Universal and Fox Entertainment are hypocritical havens for online file copying.
Using data from You Have Downloaded, a service that tracks and reveals a fraction of overall BitTorrent activity and specific downloads by IP address, TorrentFreak researched downloads tied to the unique IPs associated with each company. Their finding: these TV and film firms are no strangers to online piracy themselves. Downloads allegedly made by Sony Pictures employees include tracks from the Black Keys' records and a digital copy of the Conan the Barbarian DVD. NBC Universal’s IP has likewise been associated with downloads that include a rip of Cowboys and Aliens and season one of the popular HBO TV series Game of Thrones. TorrentFreak says that undisclosed workers at Fox Entertainment are further responsible for downloading a copy of Paramount Pictures’ Super 8, and additional reference checks are purported to show Google employees at the company’s New York office downloading copies of Windows 7, Captain America and The Hangover: Part 2, as well as music videos by Rihanna. The Church of God is likewise alleged to have committed the mortal sin of downloading episodes of Revenge and Once Upon a Time as well.
The data provided by TorrentFreak has yet to be officially verified, as it was provided by an independent third-party source and filtered by an unregulated program. However, it theoretically remains replicable by entering corporate addresses into You Have Downloaded’s service. As ExtremeTech points out, studios now face the dilemma of whether to publicly admit their hypocrisy or claim that their IPs were spoofed; the latter weakens their own legal argument that IP addresses provide sufficient proof that specific individuals have downloaded copyrighted works.
Granted, it’s not unexpected that a portion of employees at any organization would be tempted to engage in illegal downloads. But tempting as the prospect of transferring the entire Golden Girls 25th anniversary boxed set to one’s laptop may be, it is surprising to see even the hallowed halls of this industry so blatantly defaced from within.