In a ruling that came as much as a surprise as bullets and one-liners flying in the Sylvester Stallone-led action franchise, Lionsgate today firmly shut down the online leaks it knows about of its upcoming The Expendables 3 pic. Less expected, the studio also widened its sphere of inquiry to some of the biggest tech companies in the world. The quick, all-business granting of a motion of preliminary injunction by U.S. District Judge Margaret Meadows this afternoon in a downtown LA courtroom comes almost two weeks after versions of the flick started to appear during Comic-Con for download online. It also comes just four days after Lionsgate were given a temporary restraining order by Meadows against a half-dozen torrent sites that were hosting the pic, which officially comes out on August 15. The temp restraining order expired at 4 PM PT today.
Lionsgate’s attorney Dennis L. Wilson was in the courtroom when the decision was announced today. Equally as unsurprising as the ruling itself was that no one was there for the defendants, none of whom filed any opposition to the permanent injunction. However, when questioned by Meadows about communication with the defendants, Wilson did say that his firm had been in touch with the counsel for Played.to. The Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton lawyer added that Played.to has offered to cooperate in making sure the film was no longer available via their platform. They were smart too, as this case could cost it and all the defendants a planeload of damages — especially if Lionsgate feels strongly that it has suffered at the box office when the pic comes out next week. Going after actual and statutory damages in their July 31 lawsuit, Lionsgate were additionally granted the right earlier this week to freeze the bank accounts of the offending parties in the interim.
Not that this thing is now going to shuffle along through the courts quietly if Lionsgate has its way. For one thing, sources tell me the studio is searching the Internet high and low for misnamed or hidden downloads of the film. That mean other sites or platforms could find themselves becoming defendants in the near future. Also, Lionsgate successfully has sought to expand its circle of information to some major online players about how E3 got out to be downloaded more than 2 million times from the likes of Limetorrents.com, Billionuploads.com, Hulkfile.eu, Played.to, Swantshare.com and Dotsemper.com.
After getting that TRO, Lionsgate earlier the week asked the court for permission to make Google, GoDaddy and other domain-name and server companies to provide them with the information on exactly who is running some of the sites that the leaked pic was downloadable from (read the application here). Meadows granted that order today, and Wilson told Deadline after the hearing that subpoenas already have gone out. “Through these subpoenas, Lions Gate may demand the production of electronically stored information and other documents and information that is reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of Defendants’ identities and locations,” says the proposed order Lionsgate’s lawyers submitted on August 5 (read it here).“This includes but is not limited to billing records, website content, server logs and correspondence with any one or more of Defendants.”
Wilson, Christopher Theodore Varas and Larry McFarland of Bev Hills firm Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP are representing Lionsgate in the action.