Popcorn Time

After Legal Action, MPAA Claims Victory Over Popcorn Time

The Motion Picture Association of America took action in international courts to break down the distribution structure of Popcorn Time, an application designed to make piracy of films simple.

Get your popcorn ready, because the Motion Picture Association of America just won a pretty hefty battle against the “Netflix of piracy.”

On Thursday, the movie industry trade group revealed that it had taken legal actions that led to the shutdown of two popular sites commonly used for film piracy, Popcorn Time and YTS.

The two sites play different roles in the distribution of pirated content. YTS, a BitTorrent site, had become well known for its ties to the movie distribution group YIFY. Whereas, Popcorn Time, an open-source application that has often been called “Netflix for pirates,” had often relied on YIFY releases to populate its website.

“Popcorn Time and YTS are illegal platforms that exist for one clear reason: to distribute stolen copies of the latest motion pictures and television shows without compensating the people who worked so hard to make them,” MPAA CEO and former U.S. senator, Chris Dodd, said in a news release [PDF].

The association, as it has in the past in dealing with piracy issues, used a legal strategy to take on torrent providers. Popcorn Time’s developers are based in Canada, while YTS’s operator lives in New Zealand—and MPAA went to court in each respective country.

The courts worked quickly. On October 9, MPAA’s six member companies had sued Popcorn Time’s makers in a Canadian federal court, leading to an injunction shutting down the firm on October 16. On October 12, YTS’ operator was sued in New Zealand’s high court, and soon after a separate injunction was called for by that court.

“This coordinated legal action is part of a larger comprehensive approach being taken by the MPAA and its international affiliates to combat content theft,” Dodd added.

Popcorn Time Is Gone, but the Butter Still Lingers

But while MPAA may have killed the Popcorn Time site, the Popcorn Time idea will prove a little harder to kill off. As it’s an open-source product that is legal in its pure software form, so anyone can download a copy of the application and program it for their own purposes.

And there’s evidence that Popcorn Time will continue on as a separate “legal-friendly” application called Butter, which developers refer to as “your beloved Popcorn Time stripped down of the parts that made people wary.” Butter was launched in the days before the news of the MPAA shutdown became public.

But those variants are in danger of quickly fading away as well in the face of legal action. A fork of Popcorn Time that worked inside of a web browser, BrowserPopcorn, was shut down just days after it launched because of quick action on MPAA’s part.

(Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a senior editor for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. MORE

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