Employees Of Major Hollywood Studios Pirate Movies At Work

hollywood employees illegally download moviesThe Motion Picture Association of America, which represents the six big Hollywood studios, has been waging a decade-long war against the miscreants and thieves who illegally download movies and TV shows. But according to an analysis by the blog TorrentFreak, the Hollywood heavyweights should look inside the house. Employees at Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, and Disney, it seems, have also been poaching copyrighted material -- while at work.

Gnawing The Hand That Feeds You

TorrentFreak looked at the IP addresses (a computer's signature) of users of BitTorrent, one of the most common platforms for illegally sharing files online. Certain IP addresses were registered to the major studios, and TorrentFreak discovered that many of those computers had been merrily downloading movies and games with copyrights owned by their competitors. That's like a campaigner for the Women's Legion of True Temperance bootlegging 120-proof rum.

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IP addresses registered to Paramount had downloaded Happy Feet, even though Warner Bros. has the rights to its distribution, as well as the Lionsgate movie The Hunger Games. IP-addresses registered to Sony Pictures downloaded 20th Century Fox's Ice Age: Continental Drift, and an episode of Top Chef. IP addresses registered to Disney scooped up Fast and Furious 6, and the TV shows Person of Internet and Downton Abbey. And IP addresses registered to Warner Bros. thieved The Expendables 2, as well as a couple of porn titles.

Hollywood Re-Arms Its Crusade

These employees can be seen as especially traitorous, since Hollywood has doubled down on its campaign to oust and punish pirates. Last year, Voltage Pictures sued 24,583 BitTorrent users for downloading Oscar-winning film The Hurt Locker, the largest BitTorrent lawsuit in history. (In most cases like this, the often teenage offenders settle for a couple thousand dollars.)

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Earlier this year, The Motion Picture Association of America supported two proposed laws, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and PROTECT IP Act (PIPA), which would have vastly expanded the power of law enforcement to fight the trafficking of copyrighted material. But coordinated protests by the princes of the internet, including Google, Wikipedia, and Reddit, killed the legislation. That same week, police swarmed the New Zealand mansion of Kim DotCom, indicting him for various crimes related to online piracy, and destroying his file-sharing website Megaupload.

Everybody Does It

In 2013, The Motion Picture Association of America is taking a new strategy, in cahoots with the Recording Industry Association of America and five major internet providers. Under the plan, dubbed "six strikes," internet providers warn users if someone is infringing copyright on their internet connection, and then pulverize the internet connection of repeat offenders.

But it's little surprise that employees of the Big Six are rebelling against their masters. BitTorrent has 100 million active monthly users -- around the same as Yahoo and Facebook combined, the website reported last year.

That's a lot of people, and they're everywhere. According to the website YouHaveDownloaded, which tracks the IP addresses behind BitTorrent downloads, folks at the Recording Industry Association of America, the palace of former French president Nicholas Sarkozy, and the Department of Homeland Security have whiled away some of their workdays downloading copyrighted content for free.

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