Commentary

Entertainment Hackers Making Money, Headlines

Experienced digital entertainment hackers now look at diverse entertainment/media businesses and think -- here’s a new gold mine. But is it really?

Threats and millions of dollars in ransom demands, as well as the release of high-level executive emails, are at stake. HBO is now under attack by hackers threatening to release more episodes of its big shows, including “Game of Thrones.”

Now, getting illegal copies of the HBO show isn’t all that new. “Thrones” has been the most pirated show worldwide for some time.

For the current premiere episode this season, “Thrones” has been pirated 90 million times, according to analysts. This kind of activity is not likely to change in the years to come.

According to one report, entertainment hackers have received monetary compensation from a majority of companies that have been targeted. This speaks to the fluid nature of fast-moving, digitally produced TV programming content: It can be easily targeted.

A year ago, a small Hollywood-based post-production company was hacked by a group calling themselves the Dark Overlord, according to reports. It claimed to steal unreleased shows from Netflix, ABC and others. Then it threatened a pre-release of content if ransom demands were not met.  

But one Netflix show, “Orange is the New Black,” was leaked online anyway -- and that may pose the question: Was there some disagreement among the hackers? And will that happen this time around?

With nearly 500 premium-scripted TV shows in the U.S. -- on pay TV services big and small, as well as a host of digital platforms -- the individual value of an average TV show may be sinking.

Sure, stealing and piracy are crimes. Right now, hackers are not only looking for disruption and whatever monetary gains can be acquired in the digital age, but influence as well.

But what happens in future years, when there are far more premium TV shows -- say, 1,000 quality-scripted TV shows for TV viewers to see?

What happens with piracy then? Will the headlines -- and the demands -- be a lot smaller?

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