An L.A. federal grand jury yesterday indicted a group of five men, who stand charged with running one of the biggest international film piracy rings ever seen. The ring’s primary server in France reportedly contained more than 25,000 files in all, which included stolen films, TV series and audio tracks. That includes big-budget Hollywood films such as entries in the Fifty Shades series, along with TV series such as The Walking Dead.
The allegations brought against the group of men sound like the basis for a biopic themselves, not unlike this year’s American Animals, which was about a group of students who masterminded an art heist. In this case, the allegations say the men managed to hack various Hollywood studio computer systems, stealing digital files in the process. They also pirated films the old-fashioned way, by physically recording them in movie theaters, in addition to stealing copies of films sent to industry professionals and the media. Any way one can steal a film, these guys are accused of stealing films. How they ultimately distributed these films to potential buyers is unclear.
Regardless, according to The Hollywood Reporter, the five men are charged with “conspiracy, computer hacking, ID theft and copyright infringement,” all of which would certainly carry hefty sentences if found guilty. None are in U.S. custody, as the men hail from the U.K., India, Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates. The U.K. resident is already awaiting trial on similar charges.
More on this story as additional information becomes available.