How Time Warner Profits from the ‘Anonymous’ Hackers

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David Paul Morris / Bloomberg / Getty Images

A demonstrator wearing a Guy Fawkes mask protests in San Francisco on Monday, Aug. 15, 2011.

It’s quite ironic, actually. In their attempts to take down large corporations, Anonymous actually pads the pockets of one of them. (via New York Times

The hacker group Anonymous is responsible for attacks on Visa, defense contractors, the Church of Scientology and even NATO. Naturally, such anarchic schemes require a certain amount of secrecy, and its members have chosen an apt cover-up. They don masks in the likeness of Guy Fawkes, the 17th century anarchist who tried to blow up Parliament in protesting the corruption of the English government.

(PHOTOS: Guy Fawkes: Who Is This Guy Anyway?)

The beige mask, with its rosy cheeks and pencil-thin mustache and goatee, has become the veritable symbol of the hackers after its pivotal appearance in the 2006 movie V for Vendetta, about a British revolutionary who acted in the style of Guy Fawkes. It’s the top-selling mask on Amazon, and the image appears every time Anonymous makes the news. The mask has become a representation of fighting corruption in business and government.

But there’s one unintentional consequence – their disguise is earning big bucks for a major media conglomerate. Warner Brothers, the Time Warner subsidiary who produced the movie, owns the rights to the Guy Fawkes mask – and they earn royalties on every sale. (Obligatory disclaimer: Time Warner is also TIME’s parent company, so in an extremely roundabout way, we’re also profiting from this.) While Time Warner hasn’t released any data related to their earnings from the masks, it’s safe to say that the hundreds of thousands of Guy Fawkes masks sold each year helps to bring sure profit to the company.

As the Guy Fawkes saying goes, “Remember, remember the fifth of November.” Time Warner, we’re sure, is glad the date shall never be forgot.

Nick Carbone is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @nickcarbone. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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