TWO ARRESTS IN CASE INVOLVING POPCORN TIME
Ever since the release of Popcorn Time a few years ago, the amount of users has exploded. All over the world, people are streaming newly released movies and the newest episodes of popular TV shows – to the film industry’s great dismay.
The program provides easy access to content made available through illegal peer-to-peer systems, such as Bittorrent or PirateBay. But unlike the regular torrent software, Popcorn Time doesn’t require the user to download the entire file at once; Instead the program downloads only a few seconds ahead, so that downloading and playing is done simultaneously. The file is only stored temporarily on the user’s computer, and as soon as the player is closed the file disappears.
In many ways, Popcorn Time is thus just like Netflix – except for the fact that Popcorn Time is illegal. Even though no file is downloaded, parts of the copyrighted material is still being stored temporarily on the computer, and according to the European copyright legislation, such storing requires a legal source – which isn’t the case for files derived from torrent sites. So all though the systems are slightly different, the act is just as illegal.
The problem is, however, that it is extremely hard – not to say impossible – for the rights owners to prove that a copyrighted work has been streamed illegally. So for now, the copyright organizations have put a hold on fighting the users directly and have instead decided to focus on the people behind Popcorn Time and those encouraging others to use it.
And a couple of days ago the Danish police got a hold of a couple of the latter, as they arrested two men and searched their houses. The two men are behind the Danish websites popcorntime.dk and popcorn-time.dk, sites that were used to provide information about how to use Popcorn Time to watch illegal movies and TV shows.
The websites have been seized by the Danish police, and the two men are now facing charges for violation of article 299b of the Danish Criminal Law, which concerns gross violation of the copyright legislation. The maximum penalty is 6 years in prison.
Even though the two men never uploaded any copyrighted works themselves, their websites have made them an accessory to the illegal streaming done by the users.
Considering the previous verdicts in similar cases a 6-year prison sentence is highly unlikely – but it shall never the less be interesting to see how the Danish courts will handle the case and the sentencing.