Underbelly leak sparks probe

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The Nine Network, the producer and financier of the hit Australian television show Underbelly, is currently investigating how leaked copies got into the hands of the real gangland figures.

The Daily Telegraph has been told by a source that network executives in Melbourne for the station want to know how episodes of the 13 part mini-series got into the hands of the underworld players portrayed in the series and also the public.

Staff have been questioned over bootleg copies that have been circulated, which could lead to charges of contempt of court, as there are currently trials on some of the figures in Melbourne.

The $13 million series has been banned from Victoria and has affected Nine and WIN. Those living in the middle of Australia are also affected as the Nine affiliate Imparja broadcasts in that region.

A spokeswoman for the network said that two people have been questioned and have denied making any copies of the show.

Another source within in the legal “fraternity” has said that the DVDs were flying around like frisbies after being offered pirated copies of the disks, with even reports that it was being sold in Werribee by street hawkers for just $50.

The Underbelly ban saw the first and second episodes up for download 20 minutes after airing. At 1am, a HD version was available; and at 5am, a DVD copy was posted.