Fox hit by illegal piracy
By Steve Kuncewicz
intellectual property and media law expert at law firm Ralli
Illegal downloading has reached a new level with a virtually complete DVD-
quality copy of one of the summer’s biggest blockbusters leaked in its entirety
over the internet and downloaded more than 100,000 times before the FBI became
X-Men Origins: Wolverine is the latest in 20th Century Fox’s hugely successful
X-Men Franchise and, as well as being touted as one of the year’s biggest
movies, is a very important release for Fox, who have not had a major summer hit
for the past few years. The film company is banking on the success of Wolverine
to fund other projects.
The leak of the entire movie rather than individual scenes or a script is
pretty much unprecedented. The movie is protected by copyright, which covers the
movie itself, its script and its soundtrack. Anyone copying the file and passing
it on will infringe copyright and could be liable for damages or even a fine or
The UK has only seen a few copyright actions being brought by major studios in
this kind of case, but this is a very serious matter for Fox. They are afraid
much of the core audience for the movie will now not pay to see it because they
have read a negative review of the leaked copy (which apparently is missing 15
minutes of footage and has incomplete special effects and music) or because
they’ve already watched it. This may mean action being taken against copiers
will be likely in this case.
Many major movies are now released on the same day worldwide to avoid the
spread of illegal copies so this is a major blow for Fox. They could potentially
lose millions at the box office as a result of the leak.
The FBI is already working on tracing the source of the leak and is pushing for
a criminal sentence. This will probably lead to even more scrutiny of the
average movie-goer. Many cinema chains already search bags for recording
equipment on a regular basis.
If there are copies in the UK, then anyone in possession is at risk. More
importantly, this is the nightmare scenario which the anti-piracy advertisements
have warned about for some time.
It just goes to show, however, security in the movie industry is still perhaps
not as tight as the studios would like it to be.