Last week saw the leak online of the brand new Expendables movie.
Earmarked for an August 15 U.S. release, Expendables 3 leaked in near DVD quality a full two weeks ahead. The timing and quality combined to make the leak one of the most prominent in recent years.
While the original sources of these leaks are nearly always shrouded in mystery, once made publicly available on sites like The Pirate Bay they are anyone's for download.
Originally it was believed that Pirate Bay releaser Drarbg uploaded the first public torrent, but that was not the case. Flying under the radar a hugely less popular torrent (still only with a handful of seeds) actually preceded it by almost 20 minutes.
It's certainly feasible that another release preceded even this one, but with torrents on sites other than Pirate Bay regularly deleted due to copyright complaints, it's now too late for any certainty.
It's also impossible to say how many people were in the chain after the leak and before the first public torrent upload, but numerous public sources (including RARBG themselves) are now pointing to postings on 4chan as indicating the start of events.
The thread is right here and obviously everything happened in public. The postings don't specifically mention the title of the movie but a source close to the situation assures TF that the chat does indeed refer to The Expendables 3.
Less than two hours after his initial posting on July 15, 'Anonymous' was back on 4chan with an update.
"I am in contact with a release group that works with private trackers. They asked me for proof of what I had and I took pictures with a written timestamp of the disc in and out of the box," he wrote.
"I dumped them into some special submission link they had and they will get back to me. I'm just waiting in a secured IRC room for them to get back to me once the staff takes a look."
Precisely what happened after then is a mystery (as is the leaker's apparent disregard for security by posting in public) but a source informs TF that whoever obtained the copy knew they had something hot – perhaps too hot.
"We know that the leak was back then, around July 15, but everyone was scared to leak it. Most private groups had it for more than 10 days, but again they were scared to leak it," TF was told.
After the leaked copy was allegedly handed over July 15, the comments of 'Anonymous' as he returned to 4chan predicted the events of last Thursday.
"Keep an eye out for the leak. No telling how long this will take, but I'm sure it will make its way to public trackers due to the demand for it," he wrote.
Interestingly, although initial demand for The Expendables 3 was brisk, downloads now sit at an estimated 500,000, and it's currently less popular on file-sharing networks than "Divergent" which was released on the same day.