Even as they campaign against Internet piracy, several major Hollywood studios have been found downloading pirated movies and music from file-sharing services. The accusations by the website TorrentFreak also exposed the office of French President Nicolas Sarkozy as an offender.
The finger-pointing comes after TorrentFreak input Sony's IP address, as well as the addresses of Fox Entertainment and NBC Universal, into the new website Youhavedownloaded.com, which stores a database of millions of files that have been downloaded to IP addresses from file-sharing sites like BitTorrent.
The results of TorrentFreak's search highlighted a double standard in the entertainment industry, crusaders against Internet piracy.
Downloads from the Sony IP address included "Conan the Barbarian," the MTV show "Beavis and Butt-Head," a dubstep compilation album and the Black Keys song "Lonely Boy."
An IP address linked to NBC Universal's Fort Lauderdale, Fla., office downloaded "Cowboys and Aliens," the complete first season of HBO's "Game of Thrones," the CBS show "2 Broke Girls" and a "Halloween Trance" album. The movie "Super 8" was traced back to the Fox IP address.
Along with the Hollywood players, TorrentFreak input the IP address of Élysée Palace in Paris, Sarkozy's official residence, and found that six pirated files were downloaded, including a Beach Boys greatest hits album, "Arthur Christmas" and a camcorder recording of "Tower Heist."
"Sarkozy has helped promote and push through some of the toughest anti-file sharing legislation to be found anywhere in Europe," TorrentFreak wrote. "Those provisions include Internet disconnections for persistent pirates, and as of October this year 60 French Internet subscribers were on their third and final strike."
"In total six infringing downloads were traced back to Sarkozy's residence, double the country's three-strike limit," TorrentFreak added.
Using Youhavedownloaded, TorrentFreak also traced an extensive collection of pirated movies and music to Google's corporate office in New York, including "Children of Men," "The Butterfly Effect," "The Change-Up" and the official video for Rihanna's "We Found Love."
Regardless of the legal issues involved, if you're on a file-sharing site, be careful what you download, as there is no way to tell beforehand that what you're choosing to put on your computer is safe. Make sure to run all downloads through a malware-scanning program and keep your computer armed with up-to-date anti-virus software.