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Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, is unintentionally funding the world's largest illegal file-sharing network, Sweden-based Pirate Bay.

According to Variety magazine, several Wal-Mart banners have appeared on the site, including an ad for the eighth season of The Simpsons on DVD, The Sopranos, Smallville, Desperate Housewives and the movie Office Space during the crucial Christmas selling season in November and December. Many of these titles are also available illegally as bit torrents.

Wal-Mart's banner ads were placed on the site by Israeli ad agency Targetpoint, whose ad network is used by more than 5,000 registered third-party websites. Obviously, it has little control over which websites are subscribing.

The Motion Picture Association of America, the Swedish Anti-Piracy Bureau, and the US government have all lobbied for Pirate Bay's closure. Last week the group announced it has set up a fund to purchase Sealand, a former British naval platform in the North Sea, in an attempt to circumvent international copyright laws. ®

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