An end to ‘Popcorn Time’

On 28th April 2015, the UK High Court issued a ‘website blocking order’ forcing Britain’s five main Internet Service Providers (ISPs) Sky, Virgin, TalkTalk, BT and EE to block access to a number of so-called ‘Popcorn Time’ sites that provide Popcorn Time for download. The action was filed by the Motion Picture Association of America Inc. and its associated members.

Popcorn Time is an open source application which can be downloaded onto a user’s computer so that they can browse, search and locate films and television programs that they wish to watch. Popcorn Time has been referred to as ‘Netflix for Piracy’.

The Court decided that use of the Popcorn Time application to watch films and TV programmes results in infringement of the copyright in the material being watched. The Judge (Mr Justice Birss) stated that

“It is manifest that the Popcorn Time application is used in order to watch pirated content on the internet and indeed it is also manifest that that is its purpose.  No-one really uses Popcorn Time in order to watch lawfully available content.”

“The point of Popcorn Time is to infringe copyright. The Popcorn Time application has no legitimate purpose”

Hence the Judge made orders that the relevant websites should be blocked by the above mentioned ISPs.

Whilst numerous websites have been blocked in recent years, in relation to the illegal streaming of films and TV programmes, this is the first time that an injunction has been made to block a website that offers no direct links to the actual films or TV programmes.

© 2018 Wilson Gunn