The early release of the upcoming Expendables 3 film is one of the most high-profile leaks in recent history.
While pirated copies of most blockbusters eventually find their way online, a high quality leak weeks before a box office premiere is relatively rare.
To limit the availability of the movie Lionsgate has instructed several piracy monitoring companies to locate copies on various web services and target them with takedown requests. In little over a week, MarkMonitor, IP Echelon and Entura International have together sent out thousands of takedown requests targeting tens of thousands of URLs.
In a sworn testimony submitted to a California federal court, MarkMonitor’s Director of Global Operations Edward Cho explains that his company alone has submitted over 2,000 takedown requests.
“MarkMonitor, on Lionsgate’s behalf, began issuing take-down requests to the operators of the websites identified through our searches. MarkMonitor has sent approximately 2,770 take-down requests covering, cumulatively, 10,846 unique host URLs,” Cho says.
Interestingly, Lionsgate is not the only rightsholder going after leaked copied of the Expendables movie. The South Korean company Medialog also has a stake in the movie and is issuing takedown notices as well. These requests are not without problems as they target many legitimate sites.
For example, Medialog’s takedown request to Google includes TorrentFreak’s original news article on the leak, as well as reports by The Verge, Consumerist and The Daily Dot. Even worse, the company even included the official Expendables 3 website among the allegedly infringing URLs.
MarkMonitor does work directly for Lionsgate and Cho’s testimony is part of a new ex parte motion for a temporary restraining order the movie studio filed against the six file-sharing sites that were sued before the weekend. The sites in question, including Limetorrents, failed to respond to MarkMonitor’s takedown notices.
If the court grants Lionsgate’s request the website operators will be ordered to shut down their sites. In addition their financial assets will be frozen until further notice. Since it’s an ex parte request the site’s operators won’t have the option to defend themselves before the order is issued.
Lionsgate’s Executive Vice President Content Protection Robert Wenokur believes that these measures are warranted as the company is facing heavy losses as a result of the leak.
“Individuals who view the Film in this manner may not pay for tickets at the box office when the Film is released later this month. Similarly, such individuals may not purchase or rent copies of the Film when it is released to the home entertainment market after its theatrical run,” Wenokur notes.
Lionsgate’s request is quite extraordinary and unprecedented in a file-sharing case. There’s no doubt that other movie studios are keeping a close eye on developments, as the company’s approach may prove to be an effective way of targeting so-called rogue sites in the future.
Whether it will do much to stop those who want to grab a copy of the Expendables 3 leak is doubtful though. Even if the six sites are shut down, there are still hundreds of copies of the movie online, and dozens are being added every day.