After shutting down for what appeared to be forever last fall, one of the most popular forks of Popcorn Time resurfaced last month, leading to much rejoicing among those who walk on the darker side of the Internet. Of course, it didn’t take long for the MPAA to take notice, and it’s not only targeting Popcorn Time, but the ostensibly legal code that powers it as well.
The group has contacted GitHub, requesting that the site take down multiple code repositories related to Popcorn Time, TorrentFreak reports. Additionally, multiple takedown requests were sent to multiple projects forked from Popcorn Time. Many of these are unashamedly designed with the purpose of sharing copyrighted content in mind, but not all of them. But that, apparently, doesn’t matter to the MPAA.
“There are multiple ‘forks’ of Popcorn Time, all of which are 100% unlicensed and infringing, and many of which have been subject to litigation and court orders around the world confirming their infringement,” the MPAA message to GitHub reads.
One of these projects is known as Butter, which many of the original Popcorn Time developers shifted their development efforts to after the shutdown last fall. Much as the core technology behind BitTorrent does nothing illegal, Butter simply provides the streaming technology used by Popcorn Time.
Butter is used by several projects on GitHub, some of which are similar to Popcorn Time, and some which aren’t. One project among those targeted by the MPAA even belongs to the Brazilian Ministry of Culture, which probably isn’t using the software to stream an old DVD rip of Die Hard. A representative of the Brazilian Ministry of Culture told TorrentFreak that it plans to issue a statement on the matter soon.
Whether or not it’s being used for legal projects, Butter’s capacity to be used for copyright infringement seems to be reason enough for the MPAA to want it gone. “We hope you agree that GitHub’s responsibility to not knowingly assist in a massive copyright infringement operation does not end with its DMCA policy,” the group wrote in its message to GitHub.
We’ve seen this before with multiple technologies — some, like BitTorrent are still around and used for a variety of both infringing and non-infringing purposes. Others, like the peer-to-peer sharing networks of yore, exist mainly as pieces of history. Which way will Popcorn Time end up? For the time being, it seems that much of that lies in GitHub’s hands.