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U.S. Congress employees are just like us! Report of illegal downloads at work surfaces

Well, this is certainly embarrassing. According to an online report by U.S. News and World Reports, employees at the U.S. House of Representatives have been illegally downloading copyrighted material including television episodes and movies at work for some time, despite the representatives themselves pushing anti-piracy legislations such as the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).

The report tracks information from October and November of last year, showing that IP addresses related to Congressional offices downloaded such movies as The Cabin In The Woods, The Queen of Versailles, Life of Pi, and The Dark Knight Rises, as well as episodes of multiple television series including Boss, Downton Abbey, Supernatural and Glee (One of the more surprising things from the report is the number of times Home and Away, an Australian soap opera, appears on the list of downloaded shows; someone, somewhere, apparently really liked that show).

Moreover, the U.S. News piece suggests that the shows and movies listed may not even be a complete list of all pirated material downloaded during that period by Congressional workers. “The report does not include IP addresses associated with every congressional office, so the number of illegal downloads may be higher,” it says.

There are multiple reasons why we shouldn’t be surprised about this – “Congressional workers are people too, after all, why shouldn’t they torrent stuff just like everyone else?” you may find yourself thinking. But one of the biggest reasons you might have expected this was that the TorrentFreak blog already outed the U.S. House of Representatives as a hotbed of torrenting in December 2011, noting that such books as How to Answer Hard Interview Questions And Everything Else You Need to Know to Get the Job You Want and Do Not Open – An Encyclopedia of The Worlds Best-Kept Secrets were apparently proving popular at the time (the jokes write themselves, don’t they?), along with pornographic videos with explicit titles like Gangland Cream Pie 21.

The hypocrisy of working to support legislation that would tighten control over copyrighted material online while simultaneously helping yourself to the latest episode of your favorite teen soap opera is the most obvious thing to come from the publication of this report, and also the most damning thing. But what fascinates me about this more is the idea that these congressional workers are torrenting movies and shows on their work computers. Perhaps I’m simply particularly naive or innocent, but couldn’t they just want to do that at home and risk a more private embarrassment? Are they actually going to watch this bootlegged material at work? Shouldn’t they be, I don’t know, working instead? Maybe this is too much to expect.