Major media companies say online piracy is such a problem that the federal government should adopt a draconian system of blockades and blacklists to stop infringement. But maybe they should first focus on the pirates they pay and employ, who've just been exposed torrenting the hell out of competitors' movies and TV shows.

Media companies are the lead BitTorrent scaremongers, but that doesn't keep them from using the file-sharing system to save a buck. Using a new BitTorrent monitoring service, the website TorrentFreak discovered people at Sony Pictures Entertainment IP addresses downloading "Beavis and Butthead," "Conan the Barbarian" and rock duo the Black Keys, none produced by Sony. Over at NBC Universal, the download action included "Game of Thrones," "2 Broke Girls," and "How To Make It in America," none made by NBC or Universal. (We'll forgive the media conglomerate its "Cowboys and Aliens" download, since it helps distribute the film, but producers Fairview and Imagine Entertainment may still have a legitimate grievance). Fox, meanwhile, was all over Paramount's "Super "8. That would be the same Fox that had a guy sent to jail for uploading "Wolverine."

This torrent traffic were pulled from only a small sample of the total so, as TorrentFreaks notes, is only the tip of the iceberg. Given how controversial the media companies' anti-piracy legislation is right now, it seems bizarre that they'd allow staff to be so brazenly hypocritical. But on a purely practical level, it makes sense: Piracy prosecutions are pursued collectively, through close-knit industry groups like the Motion Picture Association of America, meaning media companies employees pirating things at work don't really have to worry about getting sued. Aren't oligopolies great?

[Image via nrkbeta/Flickr]