Two weeks ago a high quality leak of the upcoming Expendables 3 film appeared online.
Fearing a massive loss in revenue, movie studio Lionsgate issued thousands of takedown requests to limit the film’s availability. While most sites swiftly removed links to the pre-release leak, according to the studio some did not respond at all.
Late last week Lionsgate sued the operators of six file-sharing sites that allegedly failed to remove the infringing files – Limetorrents.com, Billionuploads.com, Hulkfile.eu, Played.to, Swankshare.com and Dotsemper.com.
Lionsgate accused the sites of several copyright infringement offenses and asked for a permanent injunction to stop further distribution of the film, as well as seizure of the sites’ bank accounts and other assets.
Yesterday the case appeared before Judge Margaret Morrow at the California federal court. None of the file-sharing sites had responded to the allegations and the judge granted Lionsgate’s request for a broad preliminary injunction.
The preliminary injunction prevents the sites from hosting and linking to copies of the movie. The same applies to all companies that provide services to or in connection with the sites, which means that the sites are at risk of losing their domain names.
In addition, the court also ordered that all bank accounts and other financial assets of the sites can be frozen.
“All banks, savings and loan associations, payment processors or other financial institutions, payment providers, third-party processors and advertising service providers of Defendants or any of them must, upon receiving notice of this Order, immediately locate all accounts connected to Defendants,” the injunction states.
The seized funds may be needed to compensate Lionsgate for the losses it suffered as a result of the leak, the judge argues.
“Such an asset freeze is appropriate in this case to preserve Lions Gate’s right to such recovery against Defendants, who are trafficking in the Stolen Film and may secret assets to insulate them from judgment,”Judge Morrow notes.
This is not the first ruling in favor of the movie studio. Earlier this week Lionsgate also obtained permission to subpoena various third-party web services including Google, Cloudflare and GoDaddy to obtain personal details on several of the defendants.
With the preliminary injunction, Lionsgate now has the potential to severely cripple the accused file-sharing sites. Whether it will be enough to stop the distribution of the leaked film has yet to be seen.
Thus far all six sites remain operational and links to the Expendables 3 leak are still widely available.