California court helping Lionsgate find ‘Expendables 3’ pirates

Filmmaker Lionsgate has been in damage control mode since the July release of a high-quality copy of “The Expendables 3” through online torrent websites. Lionsgate raced to court requesting a temporary restraining order to force the half dozen torrent sites, including limetorrents.com and swankshare.com, to halt the unreleased movie’s distribution. The film reportedly was downloaded globally over 2 million times — more than eight percent of the movie downloads were from Los Angeles.

A temporary restraining order was approved by a California judge against the unidentified torrent site operators, who apparently spurned demands to pull “The Expendables 3” off their sites. The order prohibits site operators from distributing the film and transferring site registrations. Lionsgate also was given the go ahead to make contact with the defendants’ financial and advertising providers.

According to thewrap.com, a second court order the following day gave the filmmaker permission to subpoena third parties, including GoDaddy.com and Google, to help track down the alleged Internet pirates. The third parties could be asked to hand over server logs and other confidential information about the torrent site operators.

The Sylvester Stallone movie is set for an Aug. 15 release. The film is the third in a franchise that, so far, has raked in more than half a billion dollars. Lionsgate and the movie’s producer are expected to feel the immediate financial pinch at the box office and later in post-release home entertainment sales.

While granting the temporary restraining order, the judge said it would be hard if not “impossible” to tally up the copyright infringement damage Lionsgate could suffer. The judge declared, other than revenue losses, the Internet pirates cost Lionsgate first publication rights and fouled the filmmaker’s business and consumer relationships.

Copyright protection is vital for filmmakers. A copyright holder has the exclusive right to reproduce and distribute an original work. No other parties share those rights without the copyright owner’s permission.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter, “Lionsgate Granted Restraining Order Over 'Expendables 3' Leak” Eriq Gardner, Aug. 05, 2014