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Forbes Report: Members of Congress Guilty of Online Piracy

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from www.forbes.com – Torrents can be a troublesome thing for a lot of people: they know that, objectively, it is stealing, but downloading TV shows seems so harmless, and they’re right there. For a lot of people, it’s just too hard to say no.

Apparently, that group of people includes members of Congress.

Even as they were drafting the language for the Stop Online Piracy Act, it appears that the United States Congresspeople were engaging in a liberal amount of online piracy, according to a report from Torrent Freak. By looking through youhavedownloaded.com, a website that archives torrent downloads from specific IP addresses, it was able to put together a picture of what Congresspeople are using their bandwidth for. The system isn’t perfect — it doesn’t separate dynamic ISP’s, and can sometimes assign downloads to people who didn’t actually do them. Also, it only tracks a small percentage of total bittorrent traffic. But Torrent Freak found a wealth of information coming over 800 IP addresses assigned to the US Congress.

They write:

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.

Some of the highlights of congressional downloading include a wealth of self-help books such as “Crucial Conversations- Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High,” or “How to Answer Hard Interview Questions And Everything Else You Need to Know to Get the Job You Want.” Professional development is, of course, important, but one did hope that Congress was getting it from better sources than that.

Just like other pirates, they also download software like Windows 7, and TV shows like “Sons of Anarchy,” which as luck would have it features a motorcycle gang with explicit and rigid democratic voting systems. Of course, not all of their downloads came from the small portion of the internet known as “not porn.” Apparently one of the cleanest titles Congress downloaded from the other internet was called “Gangland Cream Pie.”

Torrent Freak has previously found illegal downloading coming from places like the Department of Homeland Security, the RIAA, Hollywood studios and the French President’s Palace. Once again, reports like this show how deeply ingrained torrents have become in the fabric of the internet. In one sense, the widespread piracy is actually an argument for a bill like SOPA, but it also points out just how difficult policing the vast numbers of people downloading illegal files might be.

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