Last weekend several high quality screener copies started to leak online.
More than a dozen screeners have leaked thus far, including titles such as The Hateful Eight, The Revenant, Creed, Concussion and Steve Jobs. And according to one release ‘group’ many more are coming.
For Hollywood the prospect of so many quality leaks just before Christmas is a disaster, especially since several of the movies have yet to premiere in theaters.
The FBI is trying to catch the source of the leaks and has already traced The Hateful Eight screener back to a Hollywood executive. In the meantime, several Hollywood studios have gone into damage control mode.
To limit the availability of the movies various studios have instructed several piracy monitoring companies to locate copies online and target them with takedown requests. In just one day, Google alone received thousands of takedown requests.
This week The Weinstein Company sent Google its first batch of DMCA notices in nearly a year, asking the search engine to remove 1,067 links across 189 different domains. File-hosting services Rapidgator and Uploaded were the top targets, with more than 100 links each.
Entertainment Film Distributors is also protecting its stake in The Hateful Eight, with varying success. While Google removed many links, it took no action against a Reddit thread which discussed the latest leaks. Rightly so, as the topic doesn’t appear to link to any infringing material.
The Hateful Eight is not the only leak that has triggered a lot of takedown notices. Several copyright holders are sending a lot of notices for The Revenant, Columbia Pictures is targeting Concussion, while Twentieth Century Fox is doing the same for The Peanuts Movie. NBC Universal is protecting Legend, and so on.
In addition to Google, many other online streaming and torrent sites are being contacted directly by the movie studio’s representatives. On some torrent sites copies of the leaked screeners almost completely disappeared at one point, and new uploads continue to be removed.
Below is a screenshot of a torrent page for the Legend screener, which KickassTorrents removed after it was notified by a rightsholder.
While these takedown notices are not new, the volume appears to be much larger than when regular leaks appear online. This is no surprise, as several of the leaked films are not even in theaters yet, which makes them more likely to be pirated.
Unfortunately for the Hollywood studios not all sites are receptive to takedown notices. The Pirate Bay, for example, notoriously ignores such requests and the leaked screeners remain widely available there.
So whether the takedown avalanche will actually deter pirates has yet to be seen.