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From adult films to movies to games, Hollywood employees appear to love to pirate content

BitTorrent monitoring company Scaneye and content rights outlet TorrentFreak have raised some pretty awkward questions for Hollywood's top studios.

In a new report, they show that static internet protocol addresses associated with Viacom Inc.'s (VIA) Paramount Studios, Time Warner Inc.'s (TWX) Warner Bros., Sony Corp.'s (TYO:6758) Sony Pictures, News Corp.'s (NWS) Twentieth Century Fox, and The Walt Disney Comp. (DIS) have been actively downloading and sharing torrents.

Perhaps victims of the "bring your own device" trend, the members of the Motion Picture Association of America, are finding that their employees are file-sharers just like their counterparts in the general public.

Twentieth Century Fox reportedly shared the least content, while Warner Bros perhaps offered the most colorful list of stolen comment with their randy workforce downloading titles such as "A--holeFever - Ioana (The Summer is Magic)".  Overall a wide array of movies, video games, and TV episodes were being illegally shared.

Warner Bros
Some of Warner Bros. employees' downloads may give a new meaning to working "hard on the job". [Image Source: TorrentFreak]

The MPAA is known for its penchant for provocative statements and lawsuits.  In ads it proclaimed:

You wouldn’t steal a car
You wouldn’t steal a handbag
You wouldn’t steal a television
You wouldn’t steal a movie

Downloading pirated films is stealing,
stealing is against the law,

Well, one has to wonder whether some Hollywood folks are off stealing cars, because they certainly appear to be pirating movies.  Recall these are the same companies responsible for million dollar verdicts against working families and mass-lawsuit extortion schemes.

They're also the same ones pushing Congress to make laws to make piracy an imprisonable offense.  They and their big music allies (many of which share common ownership, e.g. Sony) filled nearly 10 percent of coffers of Senators in the last election cycle.

And while similar studies have shown Congressional offices to be active pirates themselves, the money has done a lot of talking as Congress has proposed a variety off efforts to stiffen piracy punishments and has condoned the lawsuits and legal threat campaigns by big media corporations.

Viacom lost a suit against Google Inc.'s (GOOG) YouTube video service, when server logs showed that Viacom employees had themselves uploaded many of the infringing video clips from Viacom properties such as MTV and Comedy Central.  It was unclear whether the uploads were a direct attempt to frame Google or simple hypocrisy, but either way the "billion dollar" case was quickly scuttled in the aftermath.

Large film and music corporations have at times been accused of "pirating" independent artists' work, selling it without permission and then looking to stifle the artists' ability to collect with a convoluted royalty system.  Music companies, including Sony have paid tens of millions of dollars to settle such accusations in Canada alone.

That said, illegal distribution -- while hypocritical and harmful to artists -- is not quite as hypocritically humorous as movies studio employees directly engaging in torrent piracy.  Thus the industry -- or its employees at least -- appear to have sunk to a new low.  As the popular idiom goes, "Do as I say, not as I do."

Source: TorrentFreak

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RE: Tom Cruise was paid 70mill for War of the Worlds
By Salisme on 12/26/2012 8:57:11 PM , Rating: 5
I'm not sure why he was rated down. And I realize due to the rating system here I will get an auto -1 for responding to this. I don't have points to vote you back up.

I've wondered the same thing, why do we pay actors 70 mil for "acting" when every day folks go to work just like them and earn pennies compared to them. People treat celebrities like gods, which I find appalling, they need to know what they are wearing, who they are dating, what they are eating... Its stupidity. They put their pants on just like the rest of us.

There are doctors saving lives on a daily basis, but yet some whinny person gets in front of the camera for two hours a day and gets paid 5 mil a day more than a heart surgeon. Who allowed this? The same people that are complaining they are broke. Stupid is as stupid does, and tax payers are paying the price because lobbying overrides public opinion and we get stupid laws like SOPA that have no place in any mentally competent society.

It's not rocket science here, quite offering 50+ mil contracts for every day work, and you might make money. Actors are nothing special, they are every day normal people like the rest of us who go to work.

By Samus on 12/26/2012 11:06:28 PM , Rating: 2
America, Fuck Yeah?

By Omega215D on 12/26/2012 11:29:12 PM , Rating: 2
The sad thing is the people who do the actual stunts for the main celebs are paid peanuts in comparison (but still pretty well).

By deathwombat on 12/27/2012 8:31:29 AM , Rating: 4
I hear the same complaint all the time about people being paid $20 million to hit a ball with a stick. Work has no intrinsic value, it's worth whatever it produces. If a sports league brings in $5 billion per year, the 700 or so athletes who did the work are entitled to their fair share of it. If a movie brings in a billion dollars, the actors who made it a success are entitled to their fair share of it. If an album goes platinum, the band that sang the song and played the instruments are entitled to their fair share of the profits.

It may seem unfair that people make millions of dollars for singing or acting or playing a game, but music and movies and sports are multi-billion dollar per year industries. If they were only offering the actors and athletes $50k per year, that would just mean a 99.9% profit for the studios/leagues. Would that be better?

Whether I'm producing a life saving product or playing tiddly winks, if my employer is making a billion dollars off of my work, I expect to make millions for doing what I do, no matter how obscene it may seem to other people. If you don't like the fact that music and movies and sports are multi-billion dollar per year industries, you can always boycott, but until everyone else does too, the people who star in our entertainment are entitled to a significant share of the billions that their work brings in.

RE: Tom Cruise was paid 70mill for War of the Worlds
By nafhan on 12/27/2012 9:37:12 AM , Rating: 2
Something interesting about the people who "hit a ball with the stick" is that they have basically won the lottery (especially in regards to their money handling skills). I recently saw a study that showed that some 80% of NBA players are bankrupt within two years of leaving their sport.

In other words, someone with a skill or trade and a willingness to work who has had to learn about what to do with money is better off in the long term than the majority of the people in professional sports. I would imagine something similar applies to all but the elite in Hollywood.

Bringing this back around to copyright: there's no intrinsic reason WHY storytelling or singing or hitting a ball with a stick should earn so much money. This was not the case for most of human history. IMO, the reason we pay so much for those things now is tied to issues with distribution of physical media and copyright (which the internet has disrupted).

Long term, I think everyone (humanity, not necessarily 'Merica) will benefit from moving back towards a "patron of the arts" type of model for financing artistic works and entertainment. Kickstarter is a great modern example of this in action.

RE: Tom Cruise was paid 70mill for War of the Worlds
By bsd228 on 12/27/2012 5:09:54 PM , Rating: 2
> Bringing this back around to copyright: there's no intrinsic reason WHY storytelling or singing or hitting a ball with a stick should earn so much money. This was not the case for most of human history. IMO, the reason we pay so much for those things now is tied to issues with distribution of physical media and copyright (which the internet has disrupted).

In most of human history, a single person could only provide entertainment to dozens to hundreds and occasionally thousands of people. Now a billion people watch the World Cup or the Superbowl or a Disney movie.

Would you pay $20 for a DVD of a high school performance (that doesn't include your kids)? Probably not. Likewise, how many people would want to watch the final game for the Arena football league? It's just not at the same level of skill shown by players in the NFL, or in the Premiere League in Europe. Since few can operate at that skill, they get paid inordinately well. It has absolutely nothing to do with physical media distribution.

People have finite time and money and generally gravitate to the best entertainment product available. If the quality falls, people will redirect their seen with the NBA over the past 15 years. They dropped the ball and the other pro sports benefited.

By nafhan on 12/29/2012 9:49:53 PM , Rating: 2
I understand that <small amount of money> * <several million> = <large amount of money>

That's not a new concept to me, and not really the point I was making.

By someguy123 on 12/28/2012 5:59:36 AM , Rating: 2
I don't I why its so confusing. Even if you were to create a hypothetical situation where people were charging a dollar instead of multiple dollars/tens of dollars for entertainment, you'd still likely have an upper tier of people who would be receiving millions of dollars for their work. It's not like these baseball players and actors walk around in front of 5 people and get showered with money; these guys are entertaining tens to hundreds (or in Cruise's case possibly a billion over his career) of millions of people.

I don't of many people who would willingly allow someone else to dictate their earnings if they were aware of their actual profit. Its all well and good to talk about other people making too much, but if someone took a cut out of your million and told you you didn't deserve it I'm not so sure you'd be singing the same tune.

By AmbroseAthan on 12/27/2012 10:54:25 AM , Rating: 3
People need to remember with actors that there are several thousand scraping by making nothing for every 1 who is successful (I was a theatre major and have several friends in the film industry). Its not like actors all over are making a ton of money, the majority have other day-jobs so they can live. People like Tom Cruise are lotto winners in the acting world.

And as much as people like to pick on acting as a bad profession, there are very few people who can do it well and it is not a small amount of work. Famous actors have to be in the public spotlight as long as they are famous, maintain near perfect physical form putting in hours a day at the gym, and put in huge amounts of hours studying scripts, learning dialects, training, etc. 24/7 they are on the job; it sounds simple, but can be enormously complex to do it right.

I agree that they often get paid way too much upfront though, and should be receiving more on the back-end based on how the film ends up doing. They should not be receiving 8+ figure advances.

By Xplorer4x4 on 12/27/2012 4:41:57 PM , Rating: 2
I think your 24/7 comments apply to all major athletes. Sticking with the baseball analogy, any one can swing a stick, but not everyone can do it well. These guys don't just sit at home when there not playing a game. They practice several days a week. They don't just swing a bat while at practice either. They run, they lift weights, and when they aren't playing or practising, they, and their families are in the spotlight, they have to remain professional, and they sign autographs in most cases. If you rode a bus or flew on a jet from LA to NY, would you want to get off the bus, only to have fans pester you to sign autographs? Not just one, but what about the fans lined up with 10 pictures for you to sign making it obvious they are going to throw them on ebay for a buck?

"We basically took a look at this situation and said, this is bullshit." -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng's take on patent troll Soverain

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