Internet protocol (IP) addresses associated with several major Hollywood studios were recently logged using bittorrent networks to share films created by rival studios, according to a report on peer-to-peer blog TorrentFreak. Working with the bittorrent tracking service ScanEye, TorrentFreak identified IP addresses registered to Paramount, Disney, Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox and Sony Pictures sharing films, television shows and games. A “WhoIs” search confirms one of the addresses TorrentFreak published does indeed belong to Paramount. The same studios are the principle driving force behind the forthcoming “six strikes” anti-piracy scheme that will log IP addresses engaged in media piracy and deliver warnings to users. While it’s impossible to say exactly why these IP addresses were participating in bittorrent networks — and there are a variety of uses for peer-to-peer exchanges that do not involve illegal activities — it’s most likely that individual employees were sharing media from their work computers. Though surprising, this isn’t the first time movie studio addresses have been caught engaging in piracy. A now-shuttered Russian website called “You Have Downloaded,” which functioned similarly to ScanEye, said in 2011 that it had also identified IP addresses belonging to the same studios engaging in online piracy. The site also picked up piracy at the Department of Homeland Security, the French president’s office and even at the Recording Industry Association of America. IP addresses are often used by law firms that file suit on behalf of movie and music studios against individuals accused of pirating copyrighted materials online. The “Six Strikes” program will also focus on IP addresses, using them as the basis for injecting warning messages about illegal online activity. Despite the entertainment industry’s reliance on IP addresses for copyright enforcement, a judge in New York ruled last May that the numbers are no longer enough to specifically identify an individual user due to the prevalence of wireless Internet that allows multiple users and devices to share the same IP address.
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