How Cunning VOD Pirates Plundered Taken 3

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Last Thursday file-sharers flocked to an HD copy of the movie Taken 3 after it was uploaded to torrent sites. Several days earlier TF was informed it was coming and even shown where it would be obtained from. Let's take a dusty trip to the Middle East to find out more.

taken3-logoSoon after its U.S. premiere on January 9, pirate copies of the new Liam Neeson movie Taken 3 began appearing online. While quality was decent for a ‘cam’ recording, it was nothing to get really excited about.

As it happened that didn’t matter too much since most downloaders were already preoccupied with the recent flood of high quality Oscar screeners. Nevertheless, those who ventured into a cinema to record Taken 3 are likely to have exposed themselves to considerable risk.

In many countries one can end up in jail for such activities, especially when recording is followed by uploading to the Internet. But just a week later new events meant that the Taken 3 pirates’ dance with danger would largely be forgotten.

Last Thursday an HD copy of Taken 3 appeared on all major torrent sites but thanks to an earlier tipoff, that came as no surprise to us. Several days earlier a source already told TF that a “pristine” copy of Taken 3 would become available on January 22. So how did he know? The answer lies thousands of miles away in the Middle East.

OSN is a pay TV network with its headquarters in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The network offers international entertainment content such as movies, TV shows and sporting events. Perhaps surprisingly to readers in the West, it also provides access to movies still running in U.S. theaters.

As can be seen from the image of an OSN TV screen below, Taken 3 was due to air on the PPV network on January 22.

taken 3

TF was assured that a copy would quickly by pirated using OSN as several other popular movies had also been ‘capped’ from the same source in recent times. Sure enough, the first copies to appear online last Thursday all appeared with tell-tale Arabic subtitles or a suspiciously narrow image window where they’d been cropped out.

taken-arabic

While it’s not easy to say whether all ‘subbed’ copies now online originate from the first original ‘capping’ of Taken 3, we know that the first ‘big’ copy on Western sites (uploaded by a group called CPG) was not the first overall.

Those honors fell to a group called “weleef” who uploaded this “exclusive” to Arabic forum ArabScene shortly after the first showings on OSN.

arabscene-taken

Of course, thanks to this source people from all around the globe were able to watch a good copy of the movie, despite it still playing in cinemas in the United States and elsewhere. Sadly, even those wanting to pay for the movie in the U.S. will have to wait until April 2015 for a VOD release.

Why Hollywood treats citizens in the Middle East and Asia better than its home audience is anyone’s guess, but if defeating piracy is the goal the practice might be backfiring.

Our source says that a Chinese VOD site already has 50 Shades of Grey listed for an end of February release, two weeks after its Valentine’s Day premiere in the U.S. Only a month to find out if that leaks too.

Update: A new and non-subtitled copy of Taken 3 is now flourishing online. The source? An OSN set-top box…

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