Avi Lerner, producer of The Expendables 3 and chairman of Millennium Films, has confirmed the studio is pursuing individuals who downloaded pirated copies of the movie, sending out legal letters asking for a settlement to holders of IP addresses in lieu of more substantial damages should they take cases to trial, reports trade daily Variety. The leak of the movie in July and subsequent Internet piracy is estimated to have been responsible for $250 million in lost potential revenue.
Content and asset protection solutions specialist CEG TEK International, representing Millennium, has been sending out notices of unauthorised use of copyrights to the IP addresses associated with the downloading, directing recipients to a settlement website or risk legal action.
According to Lerner, after the movie was leaked prior to its theatrical opening, it was downloaded illegally by more than 10 million people. “That was 10 million people who stole the movie. We want to go after those 10 million people,” he averred.
Lionsgate, the film’s distributor, was granted a motion of preliminary injunction by a US District in Los Angeles August 8th. The move followed a temporary restraining order against a handful of torrent sites that were hosting the movie.
Nevertheless, Millennium Films has decided to go after individual downloaders, seen as a more cumbersome process in which its legal team may have to subpoena ISPs for the identities of holders of various IP addresses.
According to Lerner, the primary reason for sending the letters was as a deterrent. “We want to show the world that by downloading the movie they might get punished,” he asserted. “The problem is if you steal a car, and you get caught, you go to jail,” he said. “If you steal intellectual property, people don’t do anything to you. Unless the American government will make this a very clear punishment in the laws, nothing will change. The people will still steal,” he suggested.
Movie veteran and The Expendables 3 star Sylvester Stallone spoke out in July about the effect of piracy on the industry, warning that people involved will lose their jobs. Interviewed by the UK’s Sky News as part of the promotional tour for action sequel, Stallone said: “I understand people want to get something for nothing. Who doesn’t? But it affects the fact that studios will start to lose confidence and they won’t put big, big numbers in and a lot of people lose their jobs. It’s a ripple effect.”