Scheduled for an August 15 U.S. release, Expendables 3 leaked in near DVD quality a full two weeks ahead. The timing and quality combined to make the leak one of the most prominent in recent years.
The movie studios behind the film have been rather quiet, but behind the scenes they have been trying hard to limit the damage. Lionsgate in particular sent takedown requests to numerous file-sharing sites. While most sites complied by taking down infringing links or copies, some failed to respond.
In response to this apparent lack of cooperation, Lionsgate has now sued the operators of six file-sharing sites – Limetorrents.com, Billionuploads.com, Hulkfile.eu, Played.to, Swankshare.com and Dotsemper.com. The complaint (copy below) filed at a federal court in California accuses the sites’ owners of direct, contributory and vicarious copyright infringement.
Limetorrents is the only torrent site in the lawsuit, and Lionsgate notes that the Expendables leak was still prominently available on the site when the complaint was drafted.
“To date, the operator(s) of the site have not responded to Lions Gate’s demands. Rather, as of the date of this filing links to the torrents allow users to access ‘swarms’ where the Stolen Film is being shared remain on the site, including in the fifth-ranked position for ‘Movie torrents’ on the site’s home page,” the lawyers write.
In the complaint, first reported by THR, the movie studio demands a wide range of measures. Lionsgate asks the court for a temporary restraining order, a preliminary injunction and a permanent injunction to stop the sites from further distributing the film.
This includes a request to suspend the sites’ domain names, or transfer them to Lionsgate. In addition, the movie studio also wants all financial institutions who do business with the sites to freeze their assets. If granted, Lionsgate could severely damage the sites in question even if the operators remain silent.
Finally, the movie company demands actual or statutory damages for the financial loss it has suffered. Since there is only one film at stake, the statutory damages are limited to $150,000 per site.
At this point it is unknown whether Lionsgate is also investigating the source of the leak, which isn’t related to any of the sites listed in the complaint. A third option would be to go after individual filesharers, which Nu Image did when they sued 23,322 alleged pirates who shared the first Expendables movies.
Thus far well over two million copies of The Expendables 3 have been shared via BitTorrent, so there are plenty of targets for sure.
Update August 2: It appears that the feds are also investigating the source of the leak, we’ll cover this in a seperate article if more information comes in.