Marvel Subpoenas Google Over the Avengers: Age of Ultron Trailer Leak

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It’s not a huge shock that Marvel and its parent company, Disney, are not happy that the Age of Ultron trailer that was supposed air during Agents of SHIELD got leaked a week early. So they’ve turned to the page in the angry corporation playbook labeled “invasive legal action.”

On Wednesday, a federal judge granted Marvel’s request for a subpoena to compel Google to release the user information of the person who posted the trailer. It looks like Marvel’s following the DMCA provisions to a T.


Deadline has a copy of both the initial DMCA takedown letter Marvel sent to Google when the trailer first popped up (attached to a declaration used to get the subpoena) and the actual court order. The initial DMCA notification hits every required point and identifies not a youtube link but the Google Drive location of the file. It’s also dated October 22nd, which sounds like Marvel was doing its research and acting quickly.

At the time of the leak, I was actually really impressed that Marvel recognized that once the footage was out, it was out and there was no use going around trying to shut down every copy that shows up. Instead, they released the official version later that day and came up with a different sneak peek to show during Agents of SHIELD.


On the other hand, the DMCA makes it relatively easy to fulfill the requirements for a subpoena. But that’s predicated on there being a proper DMCA notification. So, even if Marvel’s not actually that interested in filing hundreds of DMCA notifications to keep the trailer off the Internet, they probably still want to figure out where the initial leak came from. And take action against that person. Filing a DMCA notification and then requesting a subpoena gets them closer.

This is a much more effective and selective use of the DMCA than the prosecution of a few people or a blanket attempt to keep something off the Internet. It pretty much only works in situations where the posted material could only have come from a single leaker. My bet is that every possible claim that Marvel can file against this person, they will. Even if they can’t pay, it’ll send a clear message.


The subpoena “commanded” Google to turn over all information related to the user “John Gazelle,” specifically all identifying information “Including but not limited to any information provided when the account or profile of ‘John Gazelle’ was established, billing or administrative records that establish the name(s), address(es), telephone number(s), email address(es), IP address(es) used by such user, account number(s), and any other electronic or physical documents identifying the foregoing.”

All of that applies to “John Gazelle’s” Google Drive account, youtube account, and Google + (yes, really, Google +) account. The good news, from an “are you kidding” perspective, is that Judge Richard Wieking did not grant Marvel’s request to “permit entry onto the designated premises, land, or other property possessed or controlled by you at the time, date, and location set forth.” Even Marvel can’t get a subpoena to physically search Google’s property.