Popcorn Time, the latest pirated content software giant embroiled in the middle of the ongoing battle between copyright holders and illegal downloaders has suffered a minor blow in an Italian court this September.
The Criminal Court of Genoa has ordered that ISPs block access to the three most accessed sites for downloading the PopcornTime software – popcorntime.io, popcorn-time.se and the local version, popcorntimeitalia.com. This was a difficult decision and made due to decisions arising that the service was based on copyright infringement. A similar ruling has been imposed in the UK.
The Italian court, however, issued no such orders about what to do with the already downloaded software residing on people’s computers. This makes the ruling somewhat of an interesting situation.
Proxy Sites and VPNs
The proliferation over the last 10 years of proxy sites and Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) has meant that Internet users are able to circumnavigate country and region blocks on websites, instead, bouncing traffic through an overseas node which then can easily redirect to the blocked website. Adding another hop in the traffic flow essentially makes the recent ruling void for those that wish to get around it.
Using Proxy Sites and VPNs
Although it takes a little time to set up Internet access via either proxy sites or a VPN (and, in a lot of cases, attracts a monthly fee) it is easily accomplished, and from there, users are able to access content blocked in their region.
Users are able to choose the location of the VPN and proxy sites, to ensure the content isn’t banned in that region also.
When Netflix was once only a States based service, there were users from all over the world accessing it via VPNs and proxy sites.
A Short History of Popcorn Time
Popcorn Time is a free downloadable program for your computer that is a BitTorrent client skinned with a similar look to Netflix. As soon as the torrenting starts you are able to start streaming the content – something new in the torrenting world.
Prior to PopcornTime users had to search a torrent site such as Pirate Bay, download a magnet link for the torrent, and then start the link in a downloaded torrenting program which looked not dissimilar to a simple file explorer.
Popcorn Time put all these processes into the one program: have an indexed catalogue, with pictures, summaries and reviews all in one program, accessed from other torrent sites, which are easily downloaded and streamed directly from the program. It makes torrenting both simple and sexy, at the same time.
The original PopcornTime project was developed by a pair of Argentinians and was open source, meaning the entire code project was freely available for anyone to download on Github and build on. After a few weeks in the wild, in March 2014 the project was shut down by its developers due to pressure from various parties regarding copyright.
However, this was not the end of Popcorn Time. Other development teams forked code off the original structure and started building their own services, also open source, but with their developers cloaked in secrecy due to the potential for libel proceedings.
As of this point in time, the software remains available for download via various sites in various different regions. The legality of torrenting downloaded content at this time, at least in the US, rests with the end user, and not PopcornTime. Recently 16 downloaders of the movie Survivor have been ordered before the court by Survivor Productions to answer charges relating to them downloading the movie via PopcornTime.
It is likely these users did not use a VPN or proxy sites, or attempt to conceal their Internet traffic to access Popcorn Time, and have kept the movie on their computer as a seed.
Seeding involves keeping the content available on your computer for other users of the service to torrent from.
What Does It Mean For The Future Of Popcorn Time In The Long Run?
A lawyer for Sarzana and Associates has concluded that the makers of PopcornTime have a serious case for contesting the Italian ruling. Due to the murkiness of laws surrounding online activities in almost every region, these sorts of cases will always be contentious until the courts and law makers learn how to deal with incidents appropriately.
Due to the open source nature of PopcornTime and the way that it does not provide content, but simply references it, it is difficult to be shut down. We’re predicting variants to stay around for some time to come. After all, shutting down Napster didn’t kill pirating, did it?
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