IP addresses assigned to a major intellectual property body and the US Department of Homeland Security have been linked to torrents for downloading pirated music and films.
Torrentfreak said on Saturday it had found six unique Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) IP addresses that were associated with torrents of copyrighted material ranging from albums by Jay-Z to the first five seasons of TV show Dexter.
It also found 900 IP addresses at the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that were linked to torrents.
The site used a combination of internet tools — Whois from the American Registry for Internet Numbers along with Torrent-tracking site Youhavedownloaded.com — to cross-reference IP addresses assigned to the RIAA with known torrents.
Youhavedownloaded.com tracks 123,000 torrents which comprise 2,113,000 files. It allows people to check whether their IP address has been linked to any of the known torrents in circulation and, at the time of writing, has 55 million users in its database.
The RIAA and sister organisation the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) have lobbied US lawmakers to introduce legislation to let the government shut down websites that link to pirated content, such as the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).
"All in all, quite an astonishing revelation for an outfit that wants to disconnect copyright infringers from the internet," Torrentfreak wrote.
IP addresses can be co-opted by computer hackers, so the results do not prove that RIAA or DHS employees have been torrenting, rather that computers plugged into the organisations' networks have been associated with torrents.