Filmmakers Demand US Blocking Order Against Popcorn Time Domains * TorrentFreak
For over seven years, Popcorn Time has been a thorn in the side of movie studios large and small.
The “Netflix for Hackers” offers an easy-to-use app that opens the door to a library of thousands of streaming movies and TV shows.
The Motion Picture Association (MPA) recognized this threat early on and pressured the original developers to throw in the towel. It worked, but it came too late as the open source project was quickly revived by others.
Popcorn Time has survived through many forks of projects, including PopcornTime.app, which continued where the original developers left off. However, the developers of the fork have not been spared the legal pressure.
Last year, Hawaiian anti-piracy lawyer Kerry Culpepper registered the trademark “Popcorn Time,” which he used to suspend Popcorn Time’s Twitter account. Around the same time, Github took down the Popcorn Time repository following a complaint from the MPA, a decision that was later overturned.
Sue Popcorn Time Movie Companies
A few months ago, a group of independent film companies, including the creators of “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” and “London Has Fallen”, stepped up the pressure. The filmmakers sued the anonymous operator PopcornTime.app, as well as the VPN service VPN.ht.
According to a recent court file, VPN.ht and the filmmakers are on the verge of signing a settlement agreement. However, the same cannot be said of the anonymous operator “Popcorn Time”, who did not respond in court.
Shortly after the complaint was filed, the official PopcornTime.app site disappeared. The official Reddit community also went private, but not before one of the moderators posted a post, pointing people to popcorn-ru.tk/build/, which remains online today.
Millions of damages
Film companies have been watching these developments closely and remain committed to closing the fork once and for all. With no formal response from the developers, they are now asking the court to render a default judgment, awarding millions of dollars for various copyright and trademark violations.
The list of demands is long. Among other things, the filmmakers demand the maximum legal damages for copyright infringement for 21 movie titles. This represents a healthy amount of $ 3,150,000.
That’s not all, 42 Ventures, owner of the Popcorn Time brand, also joined the lawsuit. The company, which names attorney Kerry Culpepper as its principal, is seeking $ 2 million in damages for trademark infringement.
The amount of damages claimed is sufficient to bankrupt most people. However, the default judgment also comes with a request for an injunction, which could potentially have much broader consequences.
Blocking sites and more
The proposed injunction would force ISPs to block access to several Popcorn Time domain names, including popcorn-ru.tk. So far, no federal court has issued such a freeze order in a piracy case, but the filmmakers argue it is an option under the DMCA.
Specifically, Section 512 of the DMCA authorizes an order requiring Internet service providers to “block access to a specific and identified online location outside of the United States.”
The film companies believe that such a blocking order is justified in this case. In their proposed order, which has not yet been approved by the court, they use the following terminology:
It is ORDERED that, within 60 days of receipt of this order, all Internet Service Providers (“ISPs”) under the personal jurisdiction of the United States will do their best to BLOCK access to their servers or servers. under their control at the following target Domain names to which the defendant Popcorn Time movie pirating application is distributed: http://popcorn-ru.tk; https://popcorn-time.tw/; and https://popcorntime-online.ch/.
Targeted ISPs, which could include Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T, may use a variety of blocking options, depending on rights holders. This includes blocking domain names and IP addresses.
The requested injunction does not stop there. Film companies also want third-party service providers like Cloudflare and Google to block people from accessing Popcorn Time domains. This includes removing all search engine results.
Additionally, rights holders are requesting an order requiring the GitHub development platform to take the Popcorn Time repository and various associated accounts offline.
As mentioned earlier, these requests are made as part of a motion for judgment by default. This means that the defendant is not represented in court, which increases the likelihood that the court will approve the claim.
Blockade battle inevitable?
Given what is at stake here, however, it is quite possible that – if the order is granted – some of the third-party intermediaries will object. After all, some of these requests are fairly new.
The demand for site blocking by movie studios is not entirely new. In recent weeks, the same companies have listed similar claims in lawsuits against Internet service providers such as Grande Communications, RCN and WOW !.
Overall, it seems likely that the issue of site blocking will be properly tested in US courts in the near future.
A copy of the motion for default judgment, submitted to the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, is available here (pdf)