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An Internet leak is a situation in which information that is not yet ready for release to the general public is suddenly made available on one or more web sites. A wide range of data may be released in this fashion, usually without the express permission of the owner of that information. In the past, data such as tracks from an upcoming music release, scenes from an upcoming motion picture, and even copies of proprietary documents have all been leaked to the public via a website. While there is often some sort of malice involved in the premature release of data online, this process can sometimes be initiated by the owner as part of a public relations strategy.
Typically, the Internet leak occurs without the knowledge or the permission of the individual or entity owing the data. The leaked information is often obtained by means of hacking into networks and accessing proprietary databases, with the hacker ultimately choosing to share that data at strategic sites around the Internet. Since the information is obtained without the permission of the owner and is not intended for release to the general public at that time, Internet leaking can create a number of difficulties for the owner of the released data. In many nations, stricter laws related to the protection of intellectual property are being passed, although those laws and the level of protections provided will vary.
The nature of the Internet leak may involve sharing of personal information online without the permission of the individual involved. This may include the release of video recorded without the permission of the people captured in the presentation, a strategy that may be employed as a means of intentionally causing embarrassment or shame for an individual. In addition, hackers may choose to break through security protocols of big businesses or even government entities in order to locate proprietary information and then release it to the general public, usually with the intention of causing some sort of harm to the data owner.
While uncommon, the strategy of an Internet leak can sometimes be used by owners rather than hackers. When this is the case, what is known as a controlled Internet leak occurs, effectively allowing the release of some data in hopes of generating public interest in additional data related to the release. For example, a motion picture studio may secretly but intentionally leak out-takes from an upcoming feature film as a means of attracting interest from the public, hopefully translating that interest into more box office receipts when the film is eventually made available to movie theaters.