The websites that Lionsgate says are making leaked versions of The Expendables 3 available have to stop immediately and could see their bank accounts seized, a federal judge ordered last night. “Lions Gate has established that it will suffer irreparable harm in the absence of immediate relief,” said U.S. District Judge Margaret Meadow in granting the studio’s application for a temporary restraining order against a half-dozen torrent sites that are allegedly making copies of the upcoming Sylvester Stallone-led action flick available for downloading.
“Among other things, Defendants’ likely infringement has stripped Lions Gate of the critical right of first publication, is interfering with Lions Gate’s contractual relationships with third parties, is damaging Lions Gate’s goodwill among consumers, and is depriving Lions Gate of revenue that will be difficult or impossible to calculate, but is likely far in excess of any amount that Defendants could repay to Lions Gate in damages even if the amount could be calculated,” the judge added in her six-page order (read it here). With the offending site having been given notice, the temporary restraining order lasts until 4 PM on Friday. The websites in question must prove to the court by then why it shouldn’t be made a permanent injunction.
Added to that, Meadow gave Lionsgate the right to contact “all banks, savings and loan associations, payment processors or other financial institutions, payment providers, third party processors and advertising service providers of Defendants” about the matter so they “cease allowing such funds to be transferred or withdrawn, and cease allowing any diminutions to be made by Defendants from such accounts pending further order of this Court.” That’s going to hurt.
Lionsgate filed the lawsuit on July 31 after a stolen copy of Expendables 3 started showing up online during Comic-Con the previous week. Naming “John Does 1-10,” the copyright infringement complaint cited limetorrents.com, billionuploads.com, hulkfile.eu, played.to, swankshare.com and dotsemper.com as the culprits. The filing said that before taking the matter to the courts, the studio contacted the sites in question to get them to stop “disseminating copies of the Stolen Film” but received no response. The 16-page complaint demanded a temporary restraining order, a preliminary injunction and a permanent injunction as well as actual and statutory damages. On August 1, as Deadline’s Anita Busch reported, Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement division picked up the case, according to sources.
Heading toward Expendables 3’s August 15 opening, Monday’s order was a big step in that direction. However, the Internet being what it is, this will become a game of Whack-A-Mole as other sites not named in the complaint have likely now grabbed copies of the Nu-Image/Millennium-produced pic for downloading. Harkening to the action pics of the 1980s, the first two installments of the Expendables franchise have grossed $580 million worldwide. Starring Stallone, Jason Stratham, Terry Crews, Arnold Schwarzenegger and others from the first two flicks, the latest Expendables ups the ’80s quota with the addition of Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford, Wesley Snipes, Antonio Banderas, and Kelsey Grammer as well as the younger generation of Kellan Lutz and MMA star Ronda Rousey.