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Report:MediaDefender e-mails leaked to Web

Leak casts light on controversial tactics that may have been employed by the anti-piracy company.

MediaDefender, a company that offers to protect copyright content from illegal file sharing, saw private internal e-mails leaked to the Web over the weekend. The e-mails appear to reveal some controversial tactics used by the firm to fight piracy.

The e-mails indicate that MediaDefender, which works closely with the music and movie industries, may have been secretly behind MiiVii, a Web site that promised to enable people to upload and download copyright movies, TV shows and music, according to a report Sunday evening in The Wall Street Journal.

The e-mails indicate that the site was a ruse. The MiiVii software would allegedly track a user's activity without their knowledge and report the information back to MediaDefender, according to the Journal, citing copies of the e-mails circulating on the Web. Executives from MediaDefender told the paper that the company was only testing MiiVii.

A group called "Media Defender-Defenders took responsibility for posting the e-mails to the Web.

"By releasing these emails we hope to secure the privacy and personal integrity of all peer-to-peer users," according to a statement from the group that was posted to the Web.

The event could prove highly embarrassing for MediaDefender, which exists to safeguard other people's digital information. It's could hurt the company's reputation if it can't even protect its own data.

The Journal also reported that hackers may have obtained a recording of a phone call between a MediaDefender executive and someone from the New York State attorney general's office.

Some of the tactics employed the movie and music industries in their fight against copyright infringement have come under scrutiny of late. The Motion Picture Assoc. of America acknowledged recently that it paid a hacker $15,000 to obtain private e-mails belonging to TorrentSpy, a company accused by the MPAA of encouraging file sharing.

The MPAA said it believed the e-mails were legally obtained.