Studios sue 16 users of Popcorn Time, the ‘Netflix for Pirates’

studios sue 16 owners who torrented film survivor popcorn time
Denys Prykhodov/Shutterstock
A small group of viewers who accessed the Pierce Brosnan-starring film Survivor on the torrent platform Popcorn Time, often dubbed “Netflix for Pirates,” are in trouble. Indie studios Millennium Films and Nu Image filed a lawsuit against 16 users who torrented the film, according to Variety.

According to the studios Survivor has been illegally downloaded hundreds of thousands of times, including more than 10,000 times in Oregon, where the suit was filed. And it appears these distributors aren’t taking the intrusion lying down.

In case you’re unfamiliar, Popcorn Time is a service for iOS, Android, Mac, and Windows which gives users easy access to pirated films. Viewers are presented with a Netflix-like home screen which gives them the option to watch a variety of films, free of charge. The service manages to stay online as users aren’t downloading pirated movies in the traditional fashion, but sourcing them from a specialized feed that disappears when the movie is over.

But that argument isn’t good enough for these two studios, which used IP addresses to identify the users. “Popcorn Time makes it clear through its terms of service that they are willfully committing copyright infringement and gives them a clear option to opt out before engaging in criminal activity,” said Nu Image chairman Avi Lerner to Variety. “It’s time we hold people responsible for their action.

In the lawsuit filed today, Nu Image and Millennium Films call Popcorn Time “software that is specifically designed for committing theft,” and that its terms of service agreement include a warning that “by watching a movie with this application you might be committing copyright violations.” One good bit of news for the users being sued is that the lawsuit only seeks $750 in damages from each case, even though these infringement charges have a maximum of $150,000 per case.

It’s certainly not Popcorn Time’s first battle with the law. While the service launched last year, creators took it down after a week because of legal concerns. However, it has continued to spring back up in a variety of forms. While its now available on other BitTorrent sites, users of the service have been fined by studios in the past for illegally downloading Dallas Buyers Club and the service has been blocked on most ISPs in the U.K.

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