Five ISPs have been given orders by the UK High Court to restrict access to sites offering downloads of popular movie streaming service Popcorn Time – a move which follows complaints from the Motion Picture Association referring to the software’s use as a platform for viewing pirated content.
According to the new regulation, Virgin, BT, Sky, EE and TalkTalk are now required to block access to popcorntime.io, flixtor.me, popcorntime.se and isoplex.isohunt.to – all sites which link to Popcorn Time downloads.
In the High Court order, Justice Birss cites under Section 97A of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, that the “Popcorn Time application is used in order to watch pirated content on the internet.”
Birss also wrote that “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.”
Popcorn Time operates as a BitTorrent client, despite its slick user interface, and is used mainly for illegal content – although, as its supporters argue, it is also a handy tool for streaming public domain films.
“Court orders are a proportionate and effective measure to tackle sites dedicated to facilitating and promoting online copyright infringement,” said Motion Picture Association’s European president and managing director Stan McCoy. “The film and TV industry is comprised of hundreds of thousands of men and women working hard behind the scenes to bring the vibrant, creative stories we enjoy to the screen; content theft undermines that hard work,” he continued.
It is unclear how successful the ban will be – the blocked sites are not the only places to find Popcorn Time online. Additionally, at ISP level, it will be challenging to monitor as there is not a single version or developer to seek out, with the code available as open source.