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The hacker (or hackers) who leaked season 5 of Orange Is the New Black back in April have confirmed they received a “roughly $50,000” ransom payment earlier this year, but ultimately decided to release the stolen episodes anyway.
In an “electronic conversation” with Variety Tuesday, the Dark Overlord explained that they had indeed received a 50-Bitcoin payment from Larson Studios—a family-owned post-production business that works with Netflix—with the understanding that the payment ensured the show would not leak early. Based on rates at the time, that would have been about a $50,000 money transfer. The Dark Lord also confirmed that they leaked the show anyway as a way of punishing the studio for talking to the FBI before making their payment. Because they had demanded that Larson follow the terms of an “agreement” that was written out in the language and format of a legal contract, they called the FBI communication a “fraudulent” violation.
Considering that contract was a ransom letter, though, it’s not clear how much moral high ground they have to stand on.
“We found Larson Studios was in great delinquency of the agreement after sources confirmed law enforcement cooperation,” the group said. “Our agreement provides us the right to execute harmful action against any client who defrauds our agreement.”
According to Variety, the Dark Overlord is “known to use written agreements” full of “pseudo-legalese to broker ransom payments.” They’ve even gone so far as to demand that victims of their hacking attacks agree to their ransom terms in writing. The Dark Overlord was adamant that they had “never abused any contract” they’ve executed, and to date have “performed and upheld all legal contracts.”
Here is a sentence that isn’t from a comic book: the Dark Overlord’s identity is still undetermined, and they declined to comment on whether or not they intend to leak any of the other material obtained during the December 2016 hack. It’s suspected they could still be “in possession of up to three-dozen shows and made-for-TV movies from major networks including CBS, NBC, and ABC.” And judging by the leak of Steve Harvey’s Funderdome in early June, more could potentially be on the way.
Christine Friar is a writer and editor in New York who focuses on streaming entertainment and internet culture. Her work has appeared in the Awl, the Fader, New York Magazine, Paper Magazine, Vogue, Elle, and more.