When copies of movies leak onto the Internet, there is usually very little studios and distributors can do about it. Once a copy gets out there, it’s invariably too late, with thousands of people downloading in the opening hours.
Recently, however, a potential leak took on a different complexion. Sometime in February, a then unknown individual managed to get his hands on a pre-release copy of the upcoming Dreamworks movie The Boss Baby.
According to a local media report, the movie was due to be distributed in Serbia by local company MEGAKOM during April. But first, it needed to be localized with a Serbian language soundtrack.
Somewhat bizarrely given the security that usually surrounds high-profile releases, the movie ended up on a translator’s PC. The movie was copied, apparently without her knowledge, to the laptop of a man who lives with her.
Instead of immediately leaking it online, the man – subsequently identified as 26-year-old Momcilo Đinović – reportedly decided to make some cash. He contacted DreamWorks and 20th Century Fox with blackmail demands – pay a large bitcoin ransom or have your global release day ruined.
With help from local police, distributor MEGAKOM launched an investigation to find out how a third-party had obtained the movie. That involved tracing back the IP addresses of the person carrying out the extortion.
Meanwhile, local media reports indicate that 20th Century Fox paid Belgrade-resident Đinović – the son of a retired policeman – first four and then five bitcoin. Apparently, that was not enough to satisfy the 26-year-old, but in any event, things didn’t end well.
After being arrested by local police, Đinović appeared at the High Prosecutor’s Office charged with extorting both 20th Century Fox and Dreamworks. The judge ordered him to be held in pre-trial detention for 30 days. Sources close to the investigation inform local news outlet Novosti that he faces up to 10 years in prison.
Serbia has certainly been busy on the piracy front in recent days. According to an announcement from the Ministry of the Interior, two suspects have just been arrested following an investigation by the country’s organized crime unit into popular local TV streaming site, Serije.rs.
Police reportedly carried out searches of flats and other premises used by the site’s administrators while seizing equipment. The pair stand accused of committing criminal copyright infringement offenses.