Is it Still Popcorn Time?

On 31 August 2015 the Public Prosecutor’s Office at the Court of Genova (Italian Prosecutor) issued a sequestration order for copyright infringement against popular streaming software: Popcorn Time.

Popcorn Time (the Software) is open source software  which links users through a peer-to-peer network by allowing them to stream and watch movies or TV series. In other words, the Software does not allow users to download data from a server, but users can download files directly from different sources (i.e. other users).

The Italian Prosecutor issued a sequestration order relating to three Software’s domains: “popcorntime.io”, “popcorntime.se” and the Italian beta version of the Software “popcorntimeitalia.com”. Furthermore, it ordered internet service providers (ISP) to block access to website addresses offering the download of the Software.

Similar measures have recently been adopted by other regions, like the United Kingdom where in April the High Court blocked access to websites allowing the download of the Software. In the United States and Norway, film producer associations sued against the Software users. In Denmark the authors of websites giving instructions for the download of the Software have been arrested. So far, Israel is the only country that has adopted a different approach to the matter.

In July, the Tel Aviv District Court refused to compel ISP to block any relevant website on the assumption that such an order would impair the right to knowledge, the freedom of speech and would implicitly recognize to ISP a role of censorship on behalf of the Courts.

Notwithstanding the above, the Software is a stand-alone type (a program that does not require other added systems to run) which means that regardless of any injunctive orders, users who have already downloaded the Software at the time of orders may still use it.

Copyright © 2019, K&L Gates LLP. All Rights Reserved.