While Jack Bauer is still pursuing the baddies who detonated a nuclear bomb at the end of the season premiere of 24 a few weeks ago, 20th Century Fox already has a handle on its own leg of the investigation.
The studio said Friday that video-sharing Websites YouTube and LiveDigital have complied with a subpoena demanding the identity of the two users who allegedly posted the Emmy-winning drama's four-hour season opener, in its entirety, days before its airdate and nearly simultaneous DVD release.
"We intend to use the information provided to pursue all available legal remedies against those who infringed our copyrights," 20th Century Fox media relations VP Chris Alexander said in a statement to E! Online.
"As we have long maintained, Fox is committed to vigorously protecting our content from illegal Internet distribution and other forms of piracy."
According to Alexander's statement, the errant YouTube and LiveDigital users, known publicly only by the names "ECOtotal" and "Jorge Romero," respectively, could face prosecution for copyright infringement under the terms laid out by the federal Copyright Act.
While Jorge Romero's allegedly illegal activity on LiveDigital only involves 24, ECOtotal is also being looked at for supposedly posting 12 full-length episodes of The Simpsons, as well.
20th Century Fox hit YouTube with a subpoena Jan. 24, while LiveDigital was served Jan. 19. Both orders were filed in U.S. District Court in Northern California, where YouTube parent Google is located.
But while YouTube and LiveDigital are both currently minus 24, you can still view snippets from other Fox shows, including The Simpsons, proving just how fruitless it might be for studios and networks to try to muzzle the public's cry for fast and free video-viewing pleasure.
Earlier this month, Viacom called for YouTube to divest itself of all content from the company's coterie of networks, which includes MTV, Nickelodeon, VH1, Comedy Central, BET, CMT and Spike TV.
YouTube started to comply right away in order to avoid federal prosecution, but removing the 100,000-plus videos was a slow-going process. The hugely popular site also cleaned house in October after Viacom said that YouTube could feature clips of shows such as The Colbert Report, South Park and SpongeBob SquarePants, but not entire episodes.
"In these cases, some solution needs to be arrived at that prevents users hiding behind such systems from repeat postings," Michael R. Graham, a Chicago-based intellectual property attorney, told the Wall Street Journal late last month, specifically commenting on 20th Century Fox's recent crackdown.
The lawyer also predicted that YouTube and LiveDigital would comply with the subpoenas—which they did, obviously, without making a fuss.
"Copyright owners and digital content sites would be well-served to work together to develop workable procedures and practices to assist each other in preventing and prosecuting such infringements," Graham said.
"While this process may appear complex to some," he continued, referring to the Websites' privacy policies that prohibit them from sharing confidential user info without a subpoena, "it is actually quite straightforward and ensures protection of both Fox's copyrighted programs and the privacy of site users."