A Los Angeles-based anti-piracy probe led to the arrests of two men from northern England on suspicion of leaking “The Expendables 3” to the Internet before the film’s release date, it was announced Monday.
The suspects — a 36-year-old man from Upton and a 33-year-old man from Dewsbury, whose names were not released — were taken into custody last week by detectives from the City of London’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit and charged in the U.K. with conspiring to illegally distribute the Sylvester Stallone sequel, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.
A high-quality digital copy of the film began circulating on the Internet in July, a month prior to its Aug. 15 release date in the United States, and it was viewed hundreds of thousands of times, resulting in a significant financial loss to Lionsgate and Millennium Films, HSI officials said.
Authorities allege the pair stole the film from a cloud-based system before uploading it onto the Internet.
The film and television production industry contribute more than $80 billion a year to the domestic economy and their continued success is vital to the prosperity of the United States,” said Claude Arnold, special agent in charge for HSI Los Angeles.
“Internet crooks don’t pay wages or taxes. They don’t fund pensions and healthcare plans. All they do is get rich at the expense of those who do,” he said. “These arrests should serve as a warning shot across the bow of online pirates that we intend to hold them accountable for their crimes.” Santa Monica-based Lionsgate sued the anonymous operators of various piracy-related websites for federal copyright infringement in July over the leak.
“The public needs to be aware that piracy is not a victimless crime,” said the PIPCU’s Detective Chief Inspector Danny Medlycott. “By downloading illegal music, film, TV and books, you are not only exposing your own computer to the risk of viruses and malware, but you are also putting hardworking people’s livelihoods at risk as piracy threatens the security of thousands of jobs in the U.K.’s creative industries.”