- Four pirates from the UK have pleaded guilty of defrauding Lionsgate Films and received imprisonment sentences.
- The total losses of the industry due to the operation of the pirates’ torrent website is estimated to be about $11.2 million.
- The pirates were accessing a content management database and were downloading unreleased movies on their servers.
Four men who were running a lesser known torrenting website “TheFoundry.name”, have been sentenced to 4.5 years of imprisonment after pleading guilty to the accusations made on the court by prosecutors Lionsgate Films, and other members of the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America). Lionsgate has brought the four men - Steven Pegram (40), Mark Rollin (37), Paul Taylor (54), and Alan Stephenson (42) in front of justice because they apparently managed to get their hands on the studio’s movie 'The Expendables 3', and share it before it was made officially available in cinemas. As the movie release was back in 2014, this is a case that took years to move forward, but it finally did.
Lionsgate Films has been actively chasing pirates of this particular movie, as there were many cases of prosecution that concerned the title. From Swankshare to LimeTorrents, and from Hulkfile to Played.to, many pirating websites found legal trouble (and paid hefty fines) because of their offering of the particular movie title. The total losses for the studio due to the pre-release leak of the film are estimated to be around $2 million, but that was not the only movie that had this fate due to “TheFoundry.name”. The MPAA, representing Sony, Disney, Fox, and Warner Brothers, calculates additional losses at the level of $9.3 million, so the total losses of the industry due to the piracy actions of the four Britons reach up to $11.3 million.
According to the allegations, the four men had distinct roles, with some being occupied with the encoding and the uploading of the content onto their website, others focusing on the acquisition of the material by compromising Lionsgate servers, and others acting as the owners of the sharing platform. That is why the sentences were differentiated to four, three, and two years of imprisonment. According to the content of the indictment, the pirates gained access to a content management service database who collaborated with Lionsgate, downloaded the material through a TOR network for anonymity, and stored copies on an OVH server.
Leigh Webber, of the Specialist Fraud Division, has made the following statement about the case: “These defendants set up and ran a site which allowed users to download films for free via BitTorrent, including the Expendables 3 before its release in the cinema. All of them had a clear knowledge of what the site was used for and were well aware they were breaching the copyright of the production companies.”
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