If you’re the source for a pirated movie which then spreads across the Internet like wildfire you could face time in prison. Possibly. If you get caught. Unfortunately for Gilberto Sanchez he did get caught. And is now in jail as a direct result.
In April 2009, X-Men Origins: Wolverine leaked on the Internet. This wasn’t your typical a-day-after-release kind of affair as experienced by most movies these days, this was a-month-before-release type of deal. And made headlines as a result.
The version which found its way onto the Web was a ‘workprint’ copy of the comic book film, without the special effects having been fully finished. But apart from that the movie was intact.
The movie was first uploaded to Megaupload.com and by the time the authorities managed to get it pulled from the site it had already spread to torrent sites galore.
The man behind the X-Men Origins: Wolverine leak was caught and arrested, and has now been sentenced to one year in federal prison. This follows on from a joint investigation by the FBI and MPAA which took eight months to finger a suspect.
Gilberto Sanchez is the man’s name, a serial pirate who (according to prosecutors) remained remorseless even after charges were brought against him. Sanchez pleaded guilty to the charge of “uploading a copyrighted work being prepared for commercial distribution.”
It could be argued that having an incomplete version of the movie leak in this way actually helped X-Men Origins: Wolverine succeed at the box office. People saw a crappy, half-finished copy of the film and headed out to theaters to see the real thing a month later.
Either way it should be noted that Wolverine made a ton of money at the box office ($373 million worldwide), more than doubling its productions costs. And this in the summer of 2009, the most profitable ever for Hollywood. That doesn’t make piracy right but it sure raises questions over how much harm it’s actually doing.
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