In late October, someone at the U.S. House of Representatives decided to catch up on the latest season of Dexter, illegally downloading an episode of the TV series while at a congressional office. In the days that followed, with Hurricane Sandy threatening to keep federal workers hunkered down at home, employees of Congress downloaded the 2012 mob film Lawless, a Halloween-themed episode of The Middle, and an episode from Season 9 of CSI: New York.
Over the last four months, employees of the House of Representatives have illegally downloaded dozens of films and TV shows, according to a report shared with Whispers by ScanEye, a website that tracks what IP addresses have downloaded on BitTorrent. BitTorrent is a protocol for sharing large files over the Internet. Unauthorized downloads of copyrighted material is illegal in the U.S.
Whispers was able to ascertain a number of IP addresses associated with Congress using the IP geo-location website MaxMind. The report does not include IP addresses associated with every congressional office, so the number of illegal downloads may be higher.
Back in December 2011, the blog TorrentFreak, which covers news about BitTorrent, reported that the House of Representatives was illegally downloading a number of TV shows and self-help books around the same time some members of Congress were drafting legislation for the Stop Online Piracy Act. The much-decried SOPA bill proposed to expand punishments for streaming of copyrighted content, but was never passed.
ScanEye shows the illegal downloads haven't stopped. According to the website's data, employees of Congress have downloaded everything from the reality TV show The Ultimate Fighter to talk show The Ellen Degeneres Show to the 3D family movie The Smurfs since early October.