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Nickelodeon probes claims of massive data leak as SpongeBob fans rejoice

Nickelodeon says it is probing claims that “decades old” material was stolen from it and leaked online. This follows reports on social media that someone had dumped 500GB of snatched animation files. Hilarity, and many SpongeBob SquarePants memes, ensued.

“We are aware of social media posts that alleged production-related files were made available without authorization and we are investigating,” a Nickelodeon spokesperson told The Register. “The alleged leaked content appears related to production files only, not long-form content or employee or user data, and some of it appears to be decades old.”

The kids’ cable programming giant declined to answer specific questions about the snafu.

We’ve learned, however, that the leaked files, if the material is genuine, include never-released TV shows and scripts belonging to the animation department, and they were leaked on a private Discord server back in January. 

Someone who goes by GhostyTongue on Twitter and Discord was one of the first to post about the leak, showing a list of files with names that suggest they are PDFs of scripts, sound effects, production documentation, Photoshop files, and more.

According to malware librarians VX-Underground, the data may have stemmed from Nickelodeon’s consumer products and experience portal, and was swiped by exploiting an authentication weakness that gave people access to the animation department’s files.

Nickelodeon reportedly patched the portal to prevent any further leaks.

The dumped data also reportedly includes character images, unreleased songs from various shows, and “early SpongeBob stuff.” Nickelodeon being the home of long-running children’s cartoon SpongeBob SquarePants.

However, as exciting as the content may be to cartoon nerds and those feeling nostalgic – the SpongeBob show aired from 1999 – we’d suggest thinking twice before posting or even tweeting about any of the leaked content. Nickelodeon has deep pockets and lawyers at its disposal, and we’re guessing that the punishment will be more than getting slimed.

“Nickelodeon lawyers are on a DMCA rampage and even uttering the contents of the leak is getting people orbital nuked,” VX-Underground warned.

DMCA, of course, is America’s Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which, among other things, criminalizes dissemination of copyrighted material such as Nickelodeon-owned shows and scripts. 

GhostyTongue may have some experience with this. “As a reminder to people leaking any upcoming #Nickelodeon stuff, Nickelodeon has eyes they already and is taking action on leak reuploaders like the loud house and casegrande movie! Please stop reposting,” they said. ®