Last year the movie The Expendables 3 leaked in extremely high-quality several weeks before its theatrical debut, sparking huge Hollywood controversy.
The fully finished DVD Screener copy of the action movie featuring Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham and Arnold Schwarzenegger appeared late July 2014 and was downloaded millions of times before its official release mid August 2014.
Three months later came the first news of arrests in connection with the case.
During November 2014 the Intellectual Property Crime Unit of City of London Police (PIPCU) announced that two men aged 33 and 36 had been taken into custody after being arrested in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, and Upton, Wirral.
This morning the same police unit announced the arrest of a third man, again in the UK.
In what is being described as a joint investigation with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), City of London Police arrested the 26-year-old at his workplace in Leeds yesterday morning. He was taken to a local police station for questioning.
“The suspect is believed to be involved in obtaining high-quality films, which are either only available at the cinema or are unfinished movies which have yet to be released, and then leaking them on to the internet. It is estimated his actions are costing the industry millions of pounds,” PIPCU said in a statement.
“Officers from PIPCU and HSI searched the man’s home in Halifax where several computers and mobile devices were seized.”
News of the arrest was welcomed by Sylvester Stallone himself, who expressed gratitude to the authorities for their work in apprehending the man.
“I’d like to thank the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) at the City of London Police for working with US Homeland Security Investigations to apprehend the suspect in this case. It is important to protect the rights of creatives around the world from theft,” Stallone said.
Commenting in the arrest, City of London Police Detective Inspector, Mick Dodge, said that the operation was indicative of the international reach of the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU).
“PIPCU has a remit to protect the UK’s creative industries but we are also committed to ensuring the UK is not a safe haven for criminals seeking to attack international businesses from our shores,” Dodge said.
“Working with law enforcement partners across the world, PIPCU is coming down hard on criminals exploiting intellectual property for their own financial gain and today’s action should serve as a warning to online pirates.
“This joint investigation also demonstrates our close working relationship with the US Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) which was recently marked with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding.”
Matthew Etre, U.S. Embassy London’s Attaché for US Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) said that dealing with the issue of online piracy remains a top priority for law enforcement, despite the perception that infringement is a victimless crime.
“Too often these types of crimes are regarded as immaterial because they are seemingly without victims; however, when a business suffers a loss, it is felt at all levels, from the C-suite to the mailroom,” Etre said.
“In cases such as this, preventing piracy is akin to protecting people’s livelihoods. This arrest is yet another success story highlighting what strong, collaborative relationships between law enforcement agencies can accomplish. HSI London values its relationship with the PIPCU and continues to work closely with them to battle against intellectual property crime.”
According to PIPCU, yesterday’s arrest stems from a tipoff received by Homeland Security in July 2014 regarding movie piracy. To date, no arrests in the United States in connection with the case have been made public.