The pre-release leak of an unfinished workprint copy of Wolverine, Fox’s prime summer blockbuster hopeful, was easily the most high profile piracy case to date. I guess we’ll never know quite what effect this crime really had on the box office takings, though some have even speculated that the resulting publicity actually helped the movie’s performance. I’m not one of those people, however.

Estimates have claimed that some 4.1 million people saw the film between the April leak and May opening of the film and I find it hard to believe those sorts of numbers couldn’t have cost Fox a significant sum of money.

The man accused of copyright infringement by the FBI was arrested in the early hours of Wednesday morning in the Bronx, New York. Gilberto Sanchez had apparently uploaded the film to the Megaupload file sharing service under one of his aliases. Of course, the next question is, how did he get a copy of the film to upload in the first place?

According to CNet, spokesperson Laura Eimiller has said that the FBI have not ruled out any further arrests. The suggestion here, of course, is that the uploader was just one person in a chain, possibly a deliberate and extended chain to obfuscate the evidence under investigation.

The report reads:

If convicted, Sanchez faces up to three years in prison and a $250,000 fine or twice the gross gain or gross loss attributable to the offense, whichever is greater.

And so the question becomes calculating (ie, guessing) the gross gain and gross loss. Gain is probably not too relevant in this case, and Fox’s loss is going to be hard to pin down, I’m sure. I’m interested to see what figure they pit forward and the alchemical process by which they arrive at it.

The 2003 Hulk leak made considerably less impact and ran up considerably fewer views so it may not be any kind of measure at all, but in that case the pirate was fined just $7000 and sentenced to six months house arrest.

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