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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 illegal file-sharing site the Pirate Bay, as well as episodes 2-10 of the upcoming season, according to a statement released by the hacker. The Hollywood Reporter could not legally confirm the authenticity of that uploaded file.
“We’ve decided to release Episodes 2-10 of Orange Is The New Black Season 5 after many lengthy discussions at the office where alcohol was present,” the statement read. “Do note that there are 13 episodes. However, we were so early when we acquired the copies that post hadn’t gotten around to Episodes 11-13. Perhaps Netflix will consider releasing the season earlier now that the cat’s out of the bag?”
New episodes of Orange are scheduled for official release on June 9.
Netflix described it as an “active situation” that’s being investigated by the FBI and other authorities.
“We are aware of the situation,” Netflix said in a statement. “A production vendor used by several major TV studios had its security compromised and the appropriate law enforcement authorities are involved.”
Pirated copies of Orange could dent Netflix’s subscriber growth and the company’s 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.
Rumors 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 the 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 management’s projections, the company’s stock usually plunges.
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