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.

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