Earlier this month, pirates scored a big win when Quentin Tarantino's big blockbuster The Hateful Eight leaked online a full week before it opened in cinemas.
It was "released" by a piracy group going by the name Hive-CM8, which promised to have 40 of the best films of 2015 in its possession, to be released over the coming weeks.
But Hive-CM8 has since fallen silent—prompting downloaders to worry that the group has changed its mind.
When the group released The Hateful Eight it said it had 40 films to release. "DVDScreener 1 of 40, will do them all one after each other, started with the hottest title of this year, the rest will follow," the group announced.
Hive-CM8 has been releasing "screeners." These are the copies of movies sent out to judges for awards ceremonies like the Oscars and the BAFTAs (sometimes even before their theatrical release): Every year, some inevitably find their way online.
Of course, these screener files have technical measures in place to try to stop illegal sharing, like watermarks that uniquely identify each file. Piracy groups will try to detect and remove these, but they don't always succeed. The Hateful Eight leak has been tracked back to Hollywood executive Andrew Kosove, for example. (There's no evidence, however, that Kosove himself leaked it.)
So far, Hive-CM8 has released less than half of the promised movies. As well as The Hateful Eight, these include the James Bond movie Spectre, Legend, Steve Jobs, Creed, and Bridge of Spies.
But the group appears to have stopped its releases, as previously reported by Forbes, after potentially identifying information was posted about one of its members. The information—which Business Insider has not seen—was apparently shared on the torrent site Kickass Torrents, as well as on IPTorrents, where Hive-CM8 has been releasing its files.
A thread on Kickass Torrents is abuzz with discussion about the future of the group. One user said: "These guys have all gone undercover. There will be no more screener releases for now from CM8. Thought I should share. I was told they will rise again."
One pirate bemoaned, "I was only waiting for 2 other screeners and now the chances of those getting upload are not in my favor ... great."
"So many other good titles to get released but now chances of them surfacing are very little," another said.
A user who self-identified as an "uploader," or someone who puts pirated material on the Internet, said: "I don't blame cm8 one bit for no longer wanting to upload anymore, the group is probably destroying ALL of their equipment as we speak to prevent another extrajudicial Kim Dotcom raid."
Business Insider hasn't seen proof that Hive-CM8 has stopped — and the group could still prove its saddened fans wrong. But right now, pirates haven't got the Christmas present they were hoping for.