Warner Bros. Wants Tumblr to Identify Beetlejuice 2 ‘Leaker’

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The upcoming "Beetlejuice 2" film, starring Jenna Ortega and Winona Ryder, is scheduled to premiere in September. However, it appears that someone managed to get their hands on early footage, leaking an 'on set' photo on Tumblr. Warner Bros. is unhappy with this teaser and has obtained a DMCA subpoena, requiring Tumblr to identify the user in question.

beetlejuice 2In 1988, then 29-year-old movie director Tim Burton was widely praised for the iconic comedy horror “Beetlejuice”.

The movie went on to win an Oscar and Burton’s career was well underway, with “Batman” and “Edward Scissorhands” his next movie projects.

More than 35 years after the Beetlejuice debut, a sequel is about to be released. The upcoming “Beetlejuice 2”, brings back old cast members including Winona Ryder and Michael Keaton, paired with new stars such as Jenna Ortega. It is scheduled for release in September this year.

To warm up fans, distributor Warner Bros. has already released a trailer and teaser, which are widely available online. At the same time, however, an unidentified source has leaked previously unseen material from the film online.

In a post on Tumblr, someone using the name ‘polly-p9’ posted an alleged ‘on set’ photo from the upcoming film last November. The post didn’t include any other information but came with tags such as #beetlejuice, #timburton, #leak and #warner bros, an archived copy reveals.

The post with part of the image (pixelated by us)

leaked beetle

The image, which has since been removed, doesn’t give away too much. However. Warner Bros. is clearly alarmed by the leak. The movie studio has a history of cracking down on the unauthorized distribution of leaked material and this is no exception.

Warner Bros. Goes to Court

Warner Bros. recently requested a DMCA subpoena at a California federal court, requiring Tumblr to share identifying information on the person behind the account. The request includes a declaration from Michael Bentkover, Director of Worldwide Online Enforcement Operations at Warner Bros., explaining the situation.

“The purpose for which this subpoena is sought is to obtain the identity of the Tumblr user @polly-p9, who posted infringing content that appeared on the Tumblr account. Specifically, without permission, Tumblr user @polly-p9 posted access to Requester’s unpublished, copyrighted image from its forthcoming theatrical film to the Tumblr account, thus infringing Requester’s copyright.”

The declaration doesn’t mention “Beetlejuice 2” directly but an accompanying copy of a takedown request, sent by Warner Bros. to Tumblr, leaves no room for uncertainty.

beetlejuice dmca

Subpoena Targets Tumblr

DMCA subpoenas don’t require a review from a judge and a week after the request was filed, it was signed off by a court clerk. Afterward, the movie studio sent a copy to Tumblr, requesting it to hand over the information.

The paperwork requires Tumblr to share information that would make it possible to identify the user who, according to Warner Bros., posted the ‘copyrighted’ image that was taken ‘on set’.

“Such information would include, but is not limited to, the individuals’ names, physical addresses, IP addresses, telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, payment information, account updates and account history,” the subpoena clarifies.

beetlejuice subpoena

The image may be a photo of another image displayed on a laptop or similar device, but we couldn’t verify this independently. While the photo itself isn’t copyrighted, the “Beetlejuice 2” movie is.

Tumblr Responds?

Warner Bros. stresses that any information obtained will only be used to protect the studio’s copyright interests. What that entails exactly, was not made clear.

Tumblr confirmed to us that it received the subpoena and chose not to object. This suggests that, if any usable information was available, it was handed over to Warner Bros., with the affected user also notified.

“While we can’t discuss the specifics of the case, we can confirm that we did receive the subpoena in question, and after assessment of the facts available to us, did not file an objection.

“If a user account was identified, we will have notified the impacted account holder with more details – including whether or not information was provided,” a Tumblr spokesperson adds.

Tumblr, which is owned by WordPress.com parent company Automattic, further points out that it’s very critical of potential DMCA abuse. As highlighted in the past, it rejects a large percentage of the takedown notices it receives.

“As you know, it is our policy to review every bit of legal process we receive. In addition, we are particularly sensitive to abuse of the DMCA to curtail freedom of speech, and we have regularly pushed back on overreaching DMCA takedown demands,” the company notes.

What this means for the current situation is unclear. At the time of writing the @polly-p9 account no longer exists. Interestingly, however, the leaked image hasn’t disappeared from the web completely.

Leak Still Floats Around

A reverse image search shows that copies of the leaked “Beetlejuice 2” image are still available online through various social media platforms. This includes a copy that was posted on Tumblr before Warner Bros. requested its subpoena.

These other leaks are not hard to find but Warner Bros. apparently hasn’t taken action in response.

A logical explanation could be that the movie studio isn’t overly concerned about the leaked image, but more about the person who leaked it. After all, this person could leak more sensitive information in the future.

TorrentFreak requested a comment from Warner Bros. on the motivation behind the subpoena, but the company didn’t immediately reply. If a response comes in later, this article will be updated accordingly.

A copy of the subpoena, issued at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California is available here (pdf). The associated declaration from Warner Bros. Director of Worldwide Online Enforcement Operations can be found here (pdf).

– Note: the unpixelated film footage used in this article is taken from publicly available movie trailers.


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