RealTime IT News

A Torrent of Sith Searches

Theaters weren't the only places overflowing with "Star Wars" traffic this week as fans of the movie series flocked to the last installment, "Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith."

Web sites, search engines and P2P networks all are feeling the power of "the force" as fans sought information, even bootleg copies of the movie, online.

Nielsen/Netratings reported that traffic to the official StarWars.com Web site was up 32 percent this week over last week, hitting 981,000 unique users.

The Sith's impact was also felt by Movies.com, Moviefone.com and Fandango.com, which all experienced significant traffic spikes this week. Movies.com was up 16 percent to 532,000 hits, Moviefone.com was up 12 percent to 4.4 million and Fandango.com was up 9 percent to 839,000.

Searches for Star Wars-related information are at the top of AOL's most active search list this week, as well.

On May 18, the search queries "Star Wars Revenge of the Sith" and "Star Wars" were the most requested terms (tied at No. 1) according to the AOL Search Index. The second most-requested term was "Natalie Portman," followed by "Hayden Christensen" and then "Darth Vader." The emperor's 900 year old friend Yoda was the fifth most-requested term. Over 8,000 different "Star Wars"-related terms were queried this week on the AOL Search index.

Beyond just information on the "Star Wars" universe, users are also looking for illegal copies of the movie, which have appeared on P2P networks.

According to IM and P2P security firm Akonix, using P2P, (specifically the BitTorrent network in this case) to download the movie puts firms at risk from potential legal action from the Motion Picture Association of America, as well as slows down their own corporate networks.

"This latest 'Star Wars' episode is causing great excitement among movie fans so it's inevitable there will be high demand for free copies of the movie," said Peter Shaw, CEO of Akonix. "Organizations should immediately make sure that the use of BitTorrent and other file-sharing applications is banned in company policies and enforcing this with a technology solution to block its use."

Though "Revenge of the Sith" may be out there in the great P2P void, an examination by internetnews.com today revealed that the top torrent trackers for the film bootleg were "over-leeched." BitTorrent relies on a combination of seeders, those with complete copies, to feed the leechers who are those with incomplete copies. When there are significantly more leechers than seeders, the torrent swarm (the combination of seeders and lechers) transfers data at a rate slightly faster than frozen molasses.

But the vast majority of people are likely to see the Sith get their revenge on the Jedi in the theater. According to outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, the Darth Vader impact was expected to create a $627 million hole in business productivity, thanks to fans skipping out on work to go watch the movie's opening Thursday and even Friday.

The impact is estimated to be far less than the economic impact that the Dark Lord of the Sith inflicted on the Alderaan economy when he destroyed the planet with the Death Star.