Hollywood is running scared of Web piracy, and is fighting tooth and nail to prevent its big releases being shared over the Internet. X-Men Origins: Wolverine was not only shared online but it was leaked a month prior to release, but the FBI has now, finally, made an arrest.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine
The X-Men franchise is one of the biggest right now, with a new raft of spin-offs planned and all the movies doing fantastically well at the box-office, regardless of their quality.
The latest movie in the series, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, starring Hugh Jackman, was due for a 20th Century Fox release in May. The film cost around $100 million to make and was on the movie studio’s big hopes for 2009.
And then tragedy struck, at least for Fox. The film leaked at the beginning of April, a full month before release. It was a shorter cut with most of the CGI missing. However, the copy was DVD quality and was downloaded a staggering 4.1 million times before the movie went on general release.
Fox did all it could to prevent the pirated copy spreading but by then it was fighting a losing battle. One that puts the usual leak within 24 hours of a movie being released to shame.
The FBI and MPAA proceeded to investigate the crime (of the century, obviously), and to try and pinpoint the origin of the leak.
FBI Arrests Someone
Now, eight months after the event, the FBI has arrested a suspect. Gilberto Sanchez, 47, was arrested in New York on Wednesday suspected of being the original uploader of the leaked copy of X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
Sanchez’s indictment show that he is accused of uploading the film to Megaupload.com under the alias of either ‘theSkilled1′ or ‘SkillyGilly’. No word yet on how Sanchez is supposed to have obtained the early production copy in the first place, though.
A Fox spokesman told CNet:
“We’re supportive of the FBI’s actions. We will continue to cooperate with law enforcement officials to identify and prosecute those who illegally steal our creative content.”
If prosecuted, Sanchez faces up to three years in prison and a $250,000 fine. However, a similar case involving a leak of Hulk saw the suspect given six months house arrest and a $7,000 fine. He pleaded guilty.
20th Century Fox was always going to pursue this until it got a result. However, it should be noted that X-Men Origins: Wolverine still went on to make $375 million at the box office and that Hollywood had its most-profitable summer ever in 2009. That doesn’t make movie piracy right but it does suggest it’s less of a problem than it’s made out to be.
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