With 2.4 million downloads, Showtime’s Homeland was one of the most pirated TV-shows of 2012.
Later this month the third season of Homeland will premiere, and this time the number of downloads may even be higher as pirates have access to the premiere four weeks in advance.
Homeland’s season premiere turned up online a few hours ago and already 100,000 people have grabbed an advance copy via one of the Internet’s many torrent sites. While other TV-shows have come out ahead of schedule in the past, the source of this Homeland leak is rather unique, as the copy is not completely finished.
The leak is a so-called workprint, an unfinished copy that lacks some final touches. In two instances some visual effects of bomb craters are still to be added and the opening credits are also missing. In addition, there’s one scene where the voice of the actor is dubbed.
Since it is a workprint, the source of the leak is likely connected to a post-production studio. Unlike promotional screeners which are sent out to the press in advance, not many people have access to unfinished production work.
Somehow a copy leaked outside official channels, which are generally well protected, and eventually made its way to the scene.
Unlike regular scene releases, however, it was shared by an unknown group called “HOMELAND,” which is unusual as scene groups often take pride in their work. Whoever leaked it didn’t live up to scene standards though as the release was quickly “NUKED” by peers on a technicality.
Showtime hasn’t officially responded to the leak thus far, but it could be that they’re not too bothered by the free publicity. In recent months several TV insiders have gone on the record stating that piracy may actually help TV-shows, because of word-of-mouth promotion it generates.
And with such a unique leak, there is bound to be plenty of attention during the days to come.
The last time a high-profile workprint leaked was in 2009 when an unfinished copy of the movie Wolverine leaked a month early. The leak made headlines all over the world and 20th Century Fox quickly involved the FBI to find the leaker.
After eight months the FBI eventually arrested New York resident Gilberto Sanchez. Although he was most likely not the original source of the leak, in 2011 the then 48-year old Sanchez pleaded guilty to uploading a copy of the movie to Megaupload. He was later sentenced to one year in jail.
Whether a 20th Century Fox-like manhunt or a more relaxed HBO attitude will be adopted should become apparent in the near future. In any case, the FBI will be watching.