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The "24" four-episode season premiere was originally leaked via private FTP sites with the official box art
Fox first made YouTube aware of the infringement on Jan. 8, according to the movie studio

Twentieth Century Fox has subpoenaed YouTube to discover who uploaded four episodes of the popular TV show 24 before they aired on television.  Four episodes which served as the season premiere of the show ended up on YouTube, uploaded by a user only known as "ECOtotal," according to the subpoena from Jane Sunderland, vice president of content protection for Twentieth Century Fox.  The subpoena was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on Jan. 18 via Fox's parent company, News Corporation.

The episodes finally aired on live TV January 14 and 15, 2007.

Twentieth Century Fox wants YouTube to turn over information on the identity of the user so Fox is able to properly distinguish the copyright infringement.  ECOtotal also uploaded 12 episodes of the Simpsons on YouTube.  A quick search on YouTube reveals that ECOtotal's user account has been suspended.

The episodes are known in the pirate community as "pre-airs" since they were released before the episodes were actually broadcast on television.  Pirates often obtain these pre-airs by decrypting or finding an unencrypted satellite broadcast to a sub-station, then re-encoding the episode into a smaller format like DiVX. 

In this case, 20th Century Fox actually timed a DVD release of the first four episodes on January 16, 2007.  The pirate group "FEAR" released the pre-air to private FTP servers on January 6, 2007 with the following message:
How f***in' cool to own on dvd the first 4 episodes preair.
This rip is from retail disc, jpgs for proof.
The 24 Season 6 pre-air containing four episodes was uploaded to newsgroups on January 7, 2007 -- a full day before ECOtotal uploaded it to YouTube.  The first BitTorrent tracker spotted Season 6 on January 8, 2007. 

It's possible ECOtotal was the same person to upload the release to all three sources, but it seems more likely he was a rung further down the distribution chain and not the actual source of the DVD rip.

LiveDigital, a lesser-known video sharing site, also received a similar subpoena from the movie studio, after someone under the username of Jorge Romero uploaded the same episodes.




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