back to article Popcorn time at Popcorn Time: More vid slurpers hauled into court

Another US movie studio has filed suit against users alleged to have illegally viewed movies with the Popcorn Time app. In a lawsuit [PDF] filed in the Portland US District Court, the production company behind the 2015 film Survivor accuses 16 unnamed users of pirating its film. According to Survivor Productions Inc., the 16 …

  1. TheVogon Silver badge

    "Each defendant has been confirmed to be using the Popcorn Time file sharing software that is specifically designed for and intended for committing theft, including theft of plaintiff's motion picture"

    Or uses an open WiFi connection.

  2. ben edwards

    Causation/correlation?

    Is it feasible that popcorn time users are unaware that their stream is pirated?

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Causation/correlation?

      I doubt it, but it's feasible they don't know where it comes from or that they're sharing it to others.

    2. Greg J Preece

      Re: Causation/correlation?

      I've seen Popcorn Time, and it's got a surprisingly nice interface. There's a disclaimer on the site it comes from, but the app is quite professionally put together. I'd think it reasonable that at least some users aren't aware of what they're doing. You don't see the torrent, the data, the seeding or anything like that. It looks like Netflix.

      Of course, if the rights holders weren't so astonishingly out of touch, they might be asking the important question: what benefit does Popcorn Time provide over their own service? Well, it has way more movies instantly available than any legal streaming service, because of the constant exclusivity deals and squabbling over licencing, and it doesn't make users jump through hoops like Ultraviolet and the like do. As Jim Sterling puts it, "you push a button, and get the thing." Users will pay for convenience, but if they can get superior service for no cost at all, you bet your ass they'll go for it.

  3. Snowy

    What are they trying to do

    From the lawsuit:

    44. The mere possession of a software program like Popcorn Time is the type of conduct that

    the State of Oregon has criminalized in ORS 164.235, which reads in part:

    164.235 Possession of a burglary tool or theft device. (1) A person commits the crime of

    possession of a burglary tool or theft device if the person possesses a burglary tool or

    theft device and the person:

    Case 3:15-cv-01587-AA Document 1 Filed 08/20/15 Page 7 of 11

    COMPLAINT Page 8 of 11

    (a) Intends to use the tool or device to commit or facilitate … a theft by a physical

    taking; or

    (b) Knows that another person intends to use the tool or device to commit or facilitate

    a … theft by a physical taking.

    (2) For purposes of this section, “burglary tool or theft device” means … [any]

    instrument or other article adapted or designed for committing or facilitating a … theft by

    a physical taking.

    (3) Possession of a burglary tool or theft device is a Class A misdemeanor.

    45. It is acknowledged that the transfer of data, storing of the physical data locally on a hard

    drive and facilitation and redistribution of the stolen data to others may or may not be a “physical

    taking” under Oregon law.

    Are they trying to make the possession of software like popcorn time part of criminal law rather than the use of it being part of civil law?

    Or even extent that to P2P bit torrent?

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: What are they trying to do

      If this is what they're basing the lawsuit on, then any of us living in Oregon and owning/using a computer/smartphone/IoT/etc. can be prosecuted. If smells like BS, looks like BS, and tastes like BS, don't step in it. The suit ought to be tossed just this point....

      If they really meant this, then criminal charges should be brought to bear and not civil charges. Oh wait.. this about money, not law.

      While I'm against piracy, I'm also very much against those would take laws and twist them to their own ends.

      1. Ralph B

        Re: What are they trying to do

        > If smells like BS, looks like BS, and tastes like BS, don't step in it.

        But more to the point, don't taste it, man! Ewww.

    2. Chemist

      Re: What are they trying to do

      "Possession of a burglary tool or theft device is a Class A misdemeanor."

      I confess to being the owner of a crowbar !

      1. King Jack
        Unhappy

        Re: What are they trying to do

        Only one crowbar? I have a wardrobe full of coat hangers. What 'am a gonna do?

      2. g e

        Re: What are they trying to do

        Paper clip and/or a screwdriver

    3. Vic

      Re: What are they trying to do

      It is acknowledged that the transfer of data, storing of the physical data locally on a hard drive and facilitation and redistribution of the stolen data to others may or may not be a “physical taking” under Oregon law.

      ...And thus their previous argument is shown to be utter bollocks.

      The Oregon law quoted speficially mentions "physical taking". Copying data is clearly not covered. The lawyers who trotted out this nonsense should face some sort of sanction for this. But they won't.

      Vic.

  4. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Case dismissed?

    "Each defendant has been confirmed to be using the Popcorn Time file sharing software that is specifically designed for and intended for committing theft, including theft of plaintiff's motion picture," the suit reads."

    Looks to me like the case should be dismissed. Copyright infringement is copyright infringement, not theft. So, no theft took place, no use of "burglarly tools or theft devices" either. If they really want to bother, they should refile with the proper charges.

    1. Daniel B.

      Re: Case dismissed?

      Looks like the MPAA is having a Goebbels moment where they're now believing their own lies, and forgetting what the law really says.

      Is this a revival of the stupid lawsuits from the '00s, where single moms get slammed with six-figure fines? Oh yeah, bring it on. If there's something we really need in this world, is more bad *AA publicity.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Case dismissed?

        "Looks like the MPAA is having a Goebbels moment "

        the MPAA and RIAA have stepped back a long way from these cases having realised that it damages their business in the long-term.

        dietrolldie and fightcopyrighttrolls have much better coverage and analysis of this kind of thing than the Register's breathless regurgitation of litigator press releases.

        It will be interesting to see how these pan out, but the short version is that downloading is by-and-large not illegal, so I can't see this case having many legs to stand on let alone run with - the cases that the trolls pursue are all based around going after people for _uploading_ and have been undermined by revelations that trolls have variously been the primary seeders (prenda law) or have been bringing cases to court with no intention of pursuing them to conclusion (virtually everyone) - aka vexatious ligitiation.

        What's also been coming out is that the business model of these cases is to make more money from pursuing copyright infringement than from sales the actual copyright article itself. Judges have been taking an _extremely_ dim view of this kind of shenanigan when it's come to light as its an egrerious abuse of copyright laws and probably illegal in a lot of countries.

  5. Teiwaz Silver badge
    Terminator

    Popcorn

    "The studio behind the Adam Sandler film The Cobbler brought suit in Nevada against 11 Does alleged to have streamed the film"

    Read that, and thought, risky, if it came to trial, with all evidence viewed, how could they not contemplate the chance that the defendants might be awarded compensation for sitting through the movie. (Or at the very, least, court ordered therapy).

    Nope, not a fan, at all.

    1. dogged

      Re: Popcorn

      Streaming Adam Sandler movies is a criminal waste of bandwidth.

      (I quite like "You don't mess with the Zohan" but only because it's a genuinely accurate spoof on Israelis. Minority appeal, I grant you).

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    > 16 Does

    Can someone clarify what this means?

    Do these people have deer DNA or is the term some kind derivation of the "John" meme in prostitution?

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Big Brother

      John Doe == as yet unknown person of interest

      Like "John Doe #2" of the Oklahoma City bombing, the guy that was memory-holded away while someone resembling him suspiciously croaked in prison.

  7. FozzyBear Silver badge

    The real crime

    is that these production companies have released those movies and require payment to watch them. It should be mandatory for a public health warning be attached to any Adam sandler movie.

  8. Wade Burchette

    Theft != Copyright Infringement

    "Each defendant has been confirmed to be using the Popcorn Time file sharing software that is specifically designed for and intended for committing theft, including theft of plaintiff's motion picture."

    Did the defendants take any physical discs without paying? Did they take any film without permission? Then it is not theft. Theft requires a physical product to be taken without permission. 1's and 0's are virtual. After the defendants watched the movie illegally, the original still existed. By watching the movies in this manner, the movie studio did not earn any money. A thief takes away something you once had; but the movie studios never had the money to begin with.

    Why does Big Media insist on calling copyright infringement 'theft'? Both are equally wrong and both have a negative connotation. So why do they keep calling it theft?

    1. Velv Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Theft != Copyright Infringement

      Theft != Copyright Infringement. At least in the letter of the law as it stands today.

      In much the same way that drink driving != possession of an offensive weapon (to the letter of the law), but both could potentially result in many years in prison if someone dies through your actions. And "big media" call that manslaughter.

      So stop with the pedantry and stop trying to justify copyright infringement "as it isn't theft"

      1. Wade Burchette

        Re: Theft != Copyright Infringement

        @Velv:

        Try reading my post again. Specifically where I said "Both are equally wrong and both have a negative connotation." At no time did I say copyright infringement was acceptable. In fact, I specifically said it was not acceptable.

      2. Daniel B.

        Re: Theft != Copyright Infringement

        In much the same way that drink driving != possession of an offensive weapon (to the letter of the law), but both could potentially result in many years in prison if someone dies through your actions. And "big media" call that manslaughter.

        Except your analogy breaks down, as both cases have the same effect in the sense that someone's life is endangered by both actions.

        Actual theft has a direct and immediate negative effect on the owner who has been deprived of his stolen object. Copyright infringement may or may not have a negative effect on the author, distributor, or brick&mortar store that sells the infringed work.

    2. Vic

      Re: Theft != Copyright Infringement

      So why do they keep calling it theft?

      It's an attempt firstly to get the public will onside, and then to change public perception.

      You'd be hard-pushed to find a member of the general public who would support theft. It just isn't something we like to see. But you'd find it much easier to find people who are much less bothered by the idea of copyright infringment. So by calling these people "thieves", the media organisations are trying to demonise the offenders in the eyes of the public. That's good for convictions...

      After that, if they can get everyone calling copyright infringement "theft", there is some chance of changing the public's current view of it.

      It's still incorrect, though. With a bit of luck, the public might start to notice eventually, and the resulting backlash might make these type feel slightly less entitled...

      Vic.

  9. Ru'

    At least by dragging this through the court (and the resultant media coverage) more people won't find out about this popcorn app and therefore more content won't be "stolen". Oh, wait...

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Trolls

    It is a new way to extort money out of users. In the past it has been bittorrent users. I don't condone pirating, but how these sleazy lawyers work is pathetic. Google "Fight Copyright Trolls" or "DieTrollDie" for a long sordid past of these trolls.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    perhaps they should make legal stuff available too

    there is a lot of stuff that is legal to distribute, some old movies, creative commons stuff, fan movies. (I would certainly rate some free stuff far higher than movies I've paid to see atthe cinema)

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