Those who engage in illegal file-sharing on pirating sites can already watch the first 10 episodes of Orange Is the New Black Season 5, thanks to a hacker using the handle "thedarkoverlord." Netflix was planning to wait until June 9 to release the new season, one of its biggest hits, but they may decide to move that date up now that pirated copies are out there in the wild as of 6 a.m. Saturday. Variety reports that the hacker released the episodes, perhaps to set an example, after one of several ransom demands had not been met.
"Thedarkoverlord" issued a ransom note saying that by breaching a single company reportedly a small post-production vendor called Larson Studios that works with several major studios they had stolen unreleased shows from ABC, Fox, National Geographic, and IFC, along with OITNB. The breach happened in late 2016, according to TorrentFreak, and the hacker or group of hackers says they first approached Larson asking for a "small fee" on "the Eve of their Christmas." They claim that Larson responded to the threat and returned a signed contract but failed to pay the ransom as requested on New Year's Eve.
The Associated Press reports that they contacted the hacker in February, at which point they said "no one really (cares) about unreleased movies and TV show episodes," suggesting that they'd given up on these ransom demands.
But that all seems to have changed this week perhaps sparked by the announcement of the Season 5 release date of OITNB and the AP reinforces the idea that Orange Is the New Black is important to the Los Gatos-based Netflix's bottom line and growth. If this breach impacts the company's growth projections, it could impact their stock price as well.
Initially, to prove what they had was authentic, the hacker(s) released only the first episode of the new season, titled "Riot FOMO." They only obtained the first 10 of the new season's 13 episodes because the final three had yet to be completed when the breach took place.
And thedarkoverlord has also been advertising their demands via Twitter.
To those of you carefully watching this feed, allow the events that are but mere moments away to influence your choises.— thedarkoverlord (@tdohack3r) April 28, 2017
And so let it be read that the loathsome giants do too fall. Hello Netflix, we've arrived: https://t.co/Fmb1gsZf4a— thedarkoverlord (@tdohack3r) April 28, 2017
Let's try to be a bit more direct, Netflix: https://t.co/xhS07xugGK— thedarkoverlord (@tdohack3r) April 28, 2017
We are releasing the remainder of OITNB Season 5. Direct link to DL episodes: https://t.co/kcQZvwEsnx— thedarkoverlord (@tdohack3r) April 29, 2017
The ransom demands, which the hacker's notes have called "modest," are reportedly in the tens of thousands of dollars (in bitcoin). And after releasing all ten of Netflix's episodes today, they wrote, "It didn’t have to be this way, Netflix. You’re going to lose a lot more money in all of this than what our modest offer was. We’re quite ashamed to breathe the same air as you. We figured a pragmatic business such as yourselves would see and understand the benefits of cooperating with a reasonable and merciful entity like ourselves. And to the others: there’s still time to save yourselves. Our offer(s) are still on the table — for now."
As the AP notes, Netflix was expecting OITNB to help them add 3.2 million new subscribers between April and June.
The company has yet to officially respond regarding the hack, but they told the AP that the FBI was involved.