While Drafting SOPA, the U.S. House Harbors BitTorrent Pirates

In recent weeks we discovered BitTorrent pirates at the RIAA, Sony, Fox, Universal and even law-abiding organizations such as the Department of Homeland Security. By now it should be clear that people are using BitTorrent pretty much everywhere, and not only for lawful downloads. Today we can add the U.S. House of Representatives to that list, the place where lawmakers are drafting the much discussed "Stop Online Piracy Act" (SOPA).

houseYouHaveDownloaded is a treasure trove full of incriminating data on alleged BitTorrent pirates in organizations all across the world.

Unauthorized downloads occur even in the most unexpected of places, from the palace of the French President, via the Church of God, to the RIAA.

Although we don’t plan to go on forever trawling the archives, we felt that there was at least one place that warranted further investigation – the U.S. House of Representatives. Since it’s the birthplace of the pending SOPA bill, we wondered how many of the employees there have engaged in unauthorized copying.

The answer is yet again unambiguous – they pirate a lot.

In total we found more than 800 IP-addresses assigned to the U.S. House of Representatives from where content has been shared on BitTorrent. After a closer inspection it quickly became clear the House isn’t just using it for legitimate downloads either, quite the opposite.

Below we’ll list a few of the 800 hits we found on YouHaveDownloaded, which in turn represent just a fraction of total downloads since the site only tracks a limited percentage of total BitTorrent traffic. Again, this is real and confirmed data that is just as good as the evidence used by the RIAA when they sued tens of thousands of people for file-sharing.

Something that immediately caught our eye are the self-help books that are downloaded in the House. “Crucial Conversations- Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High,” for example, may indeed be of interest to the political elite in the United States. And “How to Answer Hard Interview Questions And Everything Else You Need to Know to Get the Job You Want” may be helpful for those who aspire to higher positions.

house

house

Books tend to be popular in the House because we found quite a few more, including “Do Not Open – An Encyclopedia of the World’s Best-Kept Secrets” and “How Things Work Encyclopedia”. But of course the people at the heart of democracy are also downloading familiar content such as Windows 7, popular TV-shows and movies.

house

house

And there was another category we ran into more than we would have wanted too. It appears that aside from self-help books, House employees are also into adult themed self-help videos. We’ll list one of the least explicit here below, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

house

Although the above is interesting, as the House is the place where lawmakers are currently trying to push though SOPA, this revelation might actually help their cause. If even people at the House are “stealing” content, we really need SOPA to counter it, they may say.

The question is though, whether SOPA will be able to break the habits of millions of Americans, as there will always be alternatives available. And even if it manages to put a dent in the current piracy rates, is that really worth it considering the potential damage SOPA can do to the open Internet and legal businesses?

Let’s see if “Crucial Conversations – Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High” has some advice….

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