Hacking is the new streaming

By AP

The Dark Overlord is demanding a ransom to prevent release of new Netflix episodes. Photo / AP
The Dark Overlord is demanding a ransom to prevent release of new Netflix episodes. Photo / AP

A hacker claims to have stolen the upcoming season of Netflix's hit series Orange Is the New Black, and is demanding that the video streaming service pay an unspecified ransom to prevent all the new episodes from being prematurely released online.

The hacker, operating under the name The Dark Overlord, has already purportedly uploaded the first episode to an illegal file-sharing service. The Associated Press could not legally confirm the authenticity of the uploaded file.

New episodes of Orange are scheduled for official release on June 9.

Netflix said a small production vendor that worked with several major TV studios had suffered a breach. The Californian company described it as an "active situation" that's being investigated by the FBI and other authorities.

Pirated copies of Orange could dent Netflix's subscriber growth and stock price.

In the ransom note, The Dark Overlord claimed to have stolen series from other studios, too, by breaking into a single company. The purported hacker promised to also release those titles unless "modest" ransoms are paid.

Rumours of a massive leak of Hollywood films and TV episodes have been circulating online for months, fed by purported screenshots of the footage and a copy of a proposed deal to delete the stolen material in return for tens of thousands of dollars in electronic currency.

When AP contacted The Dark Overlord in February, the hacker said the purloined video wouldn't be made publicly available after all, making the far-fetched claim that "no one really [cares] about unreleased movies and TV show episodes."

It's not clear what triggered The Dark Overload's renewed ransom demands.

Netflix is counting on Orange to help it add 3.2 million subscribers from April through June. That's substantially higher than the company's average gain of 1.8 million subscribers in the same period over the past five years.

Whenever Netflix's quarterly subscriber gains fall shy of projections, the company's stock usually plunges.

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