Individual Popcorn Time users sued by movie studio for infringement

By dkpope
Aug 21, 2015
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  1. Most people can agree that Popcorn Time, a service where you can watch pretty much anything, is shady -- well, it's outright piracy -- but that hasn’t discouraged its fans. That might be changing.

    The makers of early 2015 Adam Sandler flick, The Cobbler, just launched a lawsuit against 11 Popcorn Time users, TorrentFreak reports. The lawsuit says that the users copied and distributed the film without authorization through Popcorn Time. Why the users picked The Cobbler of all mediocre movies is unknown.

    Individual names aren’t in the suit, but the 11 people are called out by their IP address and their ISP, as well as the date and time they accessed the movie.

    In the suit, the filmmakers complain that Popcorn Time serves no legal purpose, it only exists “to steal copyrighted content.”

    To right the alleged wrong, the plaintiffs seek $150,000 in damages and fees, though cases such as this often settle earlier in the process. Seeing how The Cobbler has a 9% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, maybe the filmmakers are just seeking more exposure at any cost.

    While it may seem strange at first that individuals using a service such as Popcorn Time can be held accountable, it actually makes sense. Since it launched in 2014 Popcorn Time has made it easier than ever to stream copyrighted content and at some point movie studios were bound to notice. For 11 users in Oregon that time is now.

    Permalink to story.

  2. stewi0001

    stewi0001 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,132   +478

    Hollywood still dumb as always.
    deemon and Evernessince like this.
  3. alabama man

    alabama man TS Addict Posts: 194   +100

    Lucky there's like 1-2 good movies a year witch I buy year later on bluray for 5$ online. Haven't really watched movies and tv in a long time, all movies are grey/brown and series turned to reality tv. Fan and enthusiast made youtube movies are better than anything hollywood has been making lately. Almost every movie is still based on marketing children making and love as universal answer to everything, would like more realistic plots.
    noel24 likes this.
  4. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 3,105   +1,375

    Must feel real scary, being chased after by popcorn and all...

    And the movie must have sucked big time, if its creators decided to go after such lolly court cases.
  5. stewi0001

    stewi0001 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,132   +478

    My brain finally clicked, Hollywood probably focuses on suing over crappy movies so that way they can make up for the money that lost at the box office. Thus, no one better pirate Pixels or you'll be next. XD
  6. matrix86

    matrix86 TS Guru Posts: 810   +26

    Wait a minute...can they do this? I haven't used PT so I don't know how it works, really, but aren't you just streaming? You're not downloading or uploading.......right? If that is the case, how can you be held accountable? Or are they going after people who upload the movies to PT?
  7. OneSpeed

    OneSpeed TS Addict Posts: 244   +62

    Good point, but for PT, they are "legally required to obtain permission from the copyright owners of any programs it transmits". Transmitting is also covered under copyright.
  8. Squid Surprise

    Squid Surprise TS Guru Posts: 803   +244

    Similar things happen with bittorrent files... I've done some tests where I've downloaded certain files from certain sites... sure enough, a day or 2 later, I get an email, forwarded to me by my ISP, telling me that I've illegally accessed this file, and could be held accountable, blah blah blah....

    I live in Canada, so I'm probably safe (for now), but I'd make sure I was behind a VPN or other anonymizer before using these types of services - especially if you live in the US.

    Edit: I've heard of people being raided and having their hard drives seized... but I wonder how this could come into play with streaming - the files wouldn't be on your HD... although I guess they could check your browser history...
  9. Dan Maresca

    Dan Maresca TS Rookie

    PT does not just 'stream it', I tested this by watching the file it creates on the hard drive. It downloads the entire movie as you watch it and when it's done, it deletes it (unless you copy / paste it before closing PT).
  10. Squid Surprise

    Squid Surprise TS Guru Posts: 803   +244

    Yeah... but unless the Feds come in mid-watch... the file would be gone from your HD by the time you were raided... do browser history records constitute enough proof to convict?
  11. Ziffel

    Ziffel TS Booster Posts: 75   +62

    Popcorn Time is just a fancy BT client, so yes, it does upload while you stream. quote from wikipedia:

    "When a user clicked on one of the titles, the film is downloaded via the bittorrent protocol. As with other BitTorrent clients, as soon as Popcorn Time started to download a film, it also started to share the downloaded content with other users (in technical terms, it seeded the torrent to others in the bittorrent swarm). It continued to make the downloaded content available to others until the movie is deleted, which was normally done automatically when the application was closed."

    @Squid Surprise: "do browser history records constitute enough proof to convict?" -- that's not how these lawsuits work. They summon your ISP and try to link your IP address with a real-world address, name, etc. The ISP must be either willing or legally compelled to give up the information. In the U.S. some states allow this to go forth, others have said that an IP address alone is insufficient to legally identify a user, since IP addresses can be spoofed, wifi networks can be hacked or used by a neighbor, etc.
  12. Squid Surprise

    Squid Surprise TS Guru Posts: 803   +244

    Ziffel: that's how they start... but once you are named by your ISP (assuming your ISP gives you up), they now have a search warrant... the follow-up is for cops to come and take your actual PC... To prove you actually have possession of illegal material... This happened with napster/limewire and others....

    What I'm wondering here, is whether your browser history would be sufficient evidence to convict anyone if the actual files are already deleted...

    Anyways, the answer for everyone else is to use a VPN (I think the time4popcron client has one built in anyways) or proxy or some other anonymizer when accessing any illegal/quasi-legal material...
  13. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 8,430   +2,822

    I'm wondering if the fact that Popcorn Time is installed would be enough evidence to convict. The use of Popcorn Time was in fact the application in question and has no other function. So evidence of a specific movie might be irrelevant, under such conditions.

    As far as browser history, Popcorn Time is it's own application and doesn't use a browser. If you don't use the built in movie viewer, movies are not automatically flagged as watched. You can use the magnet links in Popcorn Time, to use your own client for downloading and storing movies. Popcorn Time can also be set not to delete movies or torrent files on closing the application.
  14. Squid Surprise

    Squid Surprise TS Guru Posts: 803   +244

    Good point...I wonder if just having Popcorn Time would be enough.... I tend to think no - I hardly think that having the app is proof that it was used... by "browser history", I meant popcorntime client history... figured it was simpler to say browser as technically, that's what popcorn time kind of is... If you selected to not delete movie files, then obviously the files will remain and are evidence...

    Also, if authorities decide to use undelete/restore programs to recover deleted movies - would that be admissible?

    I'm wondering just what is needed as evidence to convict in these type of cases... my suspicions are that it will differ state to state (and country to country), hence this initial trial in Oregon... maybe Oregon laws are kinder (or harsher, depending on which side you're on)...

    What USUALLY happens in these kind of things, is that the people accused quietly settle out of court... the "corporations" get the scare publicity they hope will keep others from doing it without risking the defendants actually defeating them in court (and then having millions use it as well!!).
    cliffordcooley likes this.
  15. NerdHeard

    NerdHeard TS Rookie

    I believe the reason they were able to successfully do so was because they were 'copying and distributing' material. However, I have heard more and more instances of Hollywood and/or movies going after sites like this (and the people that use them). I don't have a clear cut understanding of the law in this regard, but I would be interested to know if they can really persecute someone for just streaming content. Then where exactly do you cut that off? Spoof movies? Clips? Previews? It's definitely something that has my interest.
  16. mrjgriffin

    mrjgriffin TS Booster Posts: 123   +49

    I'm just going to assume alot of people don't know this lol but I've said it once on here on some article so I guess I can say it again. if you compare the popcorn time movie library to that of the library @ aka where the movie pirate yify hosts his videos he rips, you will notice the library on popcorn time and the library on the website are literally carbon copies of each other. after finding this out I immediately stopped using popcorn time lol. I was very skeptical of popcorn time so I did my research and found out it was a very risky service to use because.....their stuff is all pirated. so just a forewarning to anyone who wants to use popcorn time, all of their content is pirated including their tv stuff. "stay thirsty my friends."
  17. Squid Surprise

    Squid Surprise TS Guru Posts: 803   +244

    I think we all knew that... the point is... can they charge you for streaming this pirated material if it isn't actually on your PC... since they're torrents, it makes sense that they'd be the same as popular torrent pirate sites...
  18. DAOWAce

    DAOWAce TS Booster Posts: 247   +30

    Popcorn Time is just a glorified torrent client made strictly to stream videos from the unfinished download.

    It's basically a free, low quality Netflix.

    And I've been using it for a year, because it saves time and effort from downloading manually from torrent sites.

    Maybe if Netflix actually had everything I wanted to watch available to stream I'd have kept using it, but they didn't, so I took my business elsewhere (before they split services and raised costs too) and found this alternative, which I now recommend to everyone else, because hey, "free beer".
  19. RobertM

    RobertM TS Rookie

    Well, from what I've seen it downloads a 'temporary' file that it never seems to get rid of.
  20. HorrorSoldier

    HorrorSoldier TS Rookie

    Your Popcorn file remain in the temp/popcorn files in a hidden section of you hardrive:

    at "run" type in %temp% hit enter and look in the "popcorntime file", sort by date and click on the folder until you find your torrent, True Detectives will not play with the Popcorn reader so you have to find the file and play it with VLC.

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