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It’s extremely difficult, if not impossible, to plug up a leak in a dam. Once that water starts flowing out, you basically just have to let it wash. The same theory applies to modern media, and trailers in particular. If they leak, you can’t put that genie back in the bottle. It’s out, so you have to embrace it. Only after can you attempt to go back and see who started the leak in the first place.
This is where Marvel stands. The studio recently had to react on the fly when a trailer for The Avengers: Age of Ultron arrived online days before the studio wanted to share it. Initially, it was going to screen on ABC’s hit drama Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Then, it leaked. Instead of complaining about it, Marvel made a great HYDRA joke, then shared a pristine copy of the trailer earlier than it planned.
Now that the dust has settled, however, The Hollywood Reporter notes that Marvel is tracing the leak back to Google, and is going through the courts to obtain information about a user named "John Gazelle" who posted the stolen file to a Google Drive account. Marvel, according to the report, wants "more identifying information about the alleged infringer," and is using the federal court system to "[go] after the IP address associated with this user's YouTube and Google+ accounts."
Marvel obviously isn’t the first studio to have to deal with the unceremonious leak of valuable footage. At least in this instance, it was the sharing of a trailer – marketing materials that were about to be shared, for free, with the general public. In years past, other studios like Fox and Lionsgate have had to contend with the leaking of full-length features, which have made their way online days and weeks before the movies have opened in theaters. X-Men: Origins – Wolverine made headlines when a pristine copy of the film founds its way online, allegedly shared by a company employee. And earlier this year, a copy of Sylvester Stallone’s The Expendables 3 was available online. Lionsgate thinks that’s what caused the film to flop at the box office.
Legally, it will be interesting to see what type of precedent Marvel’s actions might set for future cases. If they are able to obtain the personal information of potential "pirates," that could help curb piracy that’s committed by anonymous online users. Then again, as with that dam analogy, there are so many cracks, and only so many fingers Hollywood can use to plug up the system.