A US-launched probe into the high-quality pirating of blockbuster movie "The Expendables 3" has led to the arrest of two men in Britain, US investigators said Monday.
A 36-year-old man from Upton and a 33-year-old man from Dewsbury in northern England were detained last week over the leak of the movie, starring Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger, they said.
The movie was released in mid-August, but around July 25 a high-quality version of it appeared on the Internet, said Los Angeles-based officers with the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency.
Authorities allege the pair stole it from a cloud-based system. The pre-release leak was viewed hundreds of thousands of times, resulting in a "significant financial loss" to filmmakers Lionsgate and Millennium Films.
The two suspects, held by the City of London Police's intellectual property crime unit, faces charges of conspiring to illegally distribute the action movie sequel, said ICE's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) unit.
"The film and television production industry contribute more than $80 billion a year to the domestic economy and their continued success is vital to the prosperity of the United States," said HSI agent in charge Claude Arnold.
"Internet crooks don't pay wages or taxes. They don't fund pensions and healthcare plans. All they do is get rich at the expense of those who do. These arrests should serve as a warning shot across the bow of online pirates that we intend to hold them accountable for their crimes."
The two men, whose identities were not revealed, have been bailed and are due to appear in court again in May next year, according to an ICE statement.
"The public needs to be aware that piracy is not a victimless crime," said Detective Chief Inspector Danny Medlycott of London's Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU), cited in the US statement.