You may remember that an unfinished print of X-Men Origins: Wolverine appeared online in April 2009, about a month before its theatrical release. 20th Century Fox got aggressive, as you would expect, and with the help of the MPAA, FBI and local law enforcement they managed to track down a guy called Gilberto Sanchez.
Sanchez admitted to putting the workprint, complete with temporary sound and music and a darker appearance than the finished footage, on Megaupload.com after buying a copy of the film near his home in the Bronx. In March he plead guilty to “uploading a copyrighted work being prepared for commercial distribution”, and now he’s been sentenced to one year in federal prison.
From Hollywood, Esq:
“The federal prison sentence handed down in this case sends a strong message of deterrence to would-be Internet pirates,” U.S. attorney Andre Birotte Jr. said in a statement. “The Justice Department will pursue and prosecute persons who seek to steal the intellectual property of this nation.”
“Although Fox was able to get defendant’s Wolverine workprint removed from his Megaupload account within approximately one day, by then, the damage was done and the film had proliferated like wildfire throughout the Internet, resulting in up to millions of infringements,” prosecutors said in court documents.
The original source of the Wolverine workprint has never been revealed, but it was thought to have been downloaded over 4.5 million times by the time the movie hit screens the following month. The studio estimated another $30-40 million could have been added to Wolverine‘s $373 million worldwide gross if the leak didn’t occur, but there’s no real way of telling how the leak impacted the box office results.
The Wolverine, the follow-up to X-Men Origins: Wolverine, may start filming sometime next year under the direction of James Mangold (Knight and Day, Walk the Line).