This kind of downloading/file sharing is widespread. It is being reported that between 2.5 and 10 million people illegally downloaded the Expendables 3 before it was even released. Many people that download movies, music and more in this way undoubtedly believe it is harmless. The people that create and own the content disagree but whatever your position the act itself remains illegal.
Even when they know that the act is illegal those that do it still tend to believe it is safe. They might know that the download sites sometimes get in trouble and sued for hundreds of thousands of dollars, but believe that simply downloading files is safe.
In the past they have largely been correct. It has been far more common for studios to aggressively target the torrent sites that make pirated copies of their movies available for download. In this case for example action against the download sites was swift – just days after the film leaked online the distributor Lionsgate sued the operators of several websites and one of them eventually closed down.
But, for the most part, people that simply download the files have largely gone unpunished. This case, like a few others, is different in that it also targets the people that just downloaded the movie. The company that produced The Expendables 3, Millennium Films, is now pursuing individual Internet users believed to have downloaded the film and demanding a cash payment of $300.
That was 10 million people who stole the movie,” he said. “We want to go after those 10 million people.Avi Lerner, Chairman of Millennium Films and producer of “The Expendables 3″
Or, more accurately, they are targeting the people responsible for the IP addresses that can be traced as having downloaded the movie.
Why the distinction? Let's say you loaned your car to an acquaintance, and they then used it to rob a convenience store. They wear a mask and leave no physical evidence, but witnesses get a good look at your license plate and that leads the police to you.
Illegal downloads are similar in that the authorities know the IP address that downloaded the files, but not who at that address actually did the downloading. If you pay the bill for internet service at your home or business, and somebody uses that connection to do something illegal, it gets traced back to you.
Your employees, your kids, their friends... anyway that has access to your internet connection can attach you to illegal activity and expose you financially. You need to be careful!