By Chris Tribbey
On July 31 Lionsgate filed a lawsuit against those responsible for allegedly leaking “The Expendables 3” weeks ahead of the film’s Aug. 15 theatrical release. That appears to be just the beginning of the studio’s pushback against those helping share the film online.
Lionsgate has reportedly tasked several online anti-piracy tracking firms (including Thomas Reuters’ MarkMonitor, the U.K.’s Entura International, and Los Angeles’ IP Echelon) with sending out thousands of takedown notices to Web sites associated with pirated copies of the film.
Lionsgate’s suit specifically goes after a handful of BitTorrent sharing sites (limetorrents.com, billionuploads.com, hulkfile.eu, played.to, swankshare.com and dotsemper.com) and their operators, for hosting illegal copies of the film. But the takedown requests apparently go much further.
According to testimony filed on behalf of Lionsgate in its suit, Edward Cho, director of global operations for MarkMonitor, said that as of July 31, his firm sent approximately 2,770 takedown requests covering 10,846 unique URLs hosting copies of “Expendables 3.”
“In the vast majority of instances the recipients responded by taking down the stolen film and otherwise taking [sic] steps to avoid the piracy of the stolen film,” Cho’s testimony reads. However, the six Web sites named in Lionsgate’s suit failed to comply, Cho said, and today continue hosting illegal copies of the movie.
According to MarkMonitor data, as of July 31, “Expendables 3” had been downloaded at least 2.1 million times via peer-to-peer networks, with a quarter million of those downloads occurring in the U.S.
The judge in Lionsgate’s case has already handed down a temporary restraining order against the Web sites.
“It … appears likely that the defendants are unlawfully distributing, reproducing, performing and otherwise disseminating the film through the Web sites limetorrents.com, billionuploads.com, hulkfile.eu, played.to, swankshare.com and dotsemper.com,” the ruling from U.S. district judge Margaret Morrow reads. “Lionsgate has established that it will suffer irreparable harm in the absence of immediate relief. Among other things, defendants’ likely infringement has stripped Lionsgate of the critical right of first publication, is interfering with Lionsgate’s contractual relationships with third parties, is damaging Lionsgate’s goodwill among consumers, and is depriving Lionsgate of revenue that will be difficult or impossible to calculate, but is likely far in excess of any amount that defendants could repay to Lionsgate in damages even if the amount could be calculated.”