Popcorn Time Developers Poke MPAA with A New Fork

popcorntA few weeks ago the main Popcorn Time fork, operating from the PopcornTime.io domain name, shut down its servers.

The MPAA took credit for the fall announcing that it had filed a lawsuit against several of the developers in Canada. In response to these legal threats several key developers backed out.

However, that doesn’t mean the application is no longer available. Several other forks (variants) are still online and more recently a group of new developers launched the Popcorn Time Community Edition.

It all started with a fully working fix for the .io fork which was circulated on Reddit, as we reported earlier. This gained a lot of attention, which prompted the developers to start their own website.

This week Popcorntime.ml launched, which offers instructions on how to revive the .io fork plus fully operational installers for the new and improved Popcorn Time Community Edition (PTCE).

“Now we have taken it a step further and created a web site where people can find more information about the Community edition project and links to the working installers or other relevant information,” the PTCE teams tells TF.


The new group of developers are not involved with the .io fork, they simply revived it. If there’s enough interest, the team will probably continue to expand and improve their own version.

“In the beginning it was just so people still could use the version from Popcorntime.io and continue to enjoy this great software. But as long as people use it and we have people to drive this project forwards it will probably continue to evolve in future as well,” they tell us.

Although the PTCE team is just a few weeks old, it has already lost two members. Last week Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN announced that it settled with two developers, who risk a €2,000 per day fine if they violate their agreement.

The PTCE team mourns their loss, but is not eager to comment on the legal side of the project.

“We wish the two developers all the best and we really miss them, other than that we have no comment on that or the legal debate regarding this software,” they say.

The message to copyright holders and anti-piracy outfits is clear though. Legal pressure or not, the Popcorn Time phenomenon is not going away anytime soon.

“Popcorn Time will probably never go away, despite the efforts made by organizations such as BREIN, the MPAA and others. Instead of fighting this great software they should embrace it,” PTCE tells TF.

In addition to the new Community Edition, the original Popcorntime.io fork is still working on a comeback of its own.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Source: TorrentFreak

Court: Cox Willingly Failed to Disconnect Pirating Subscribers

cox-logoToday marks the start of a crucial trial that may define how U.S. Internet providers deal with pirating subscribers in the future.

Internet provider Cox Communications is facing a lawsuit from BMG Rights Management which accuses the ISP of failing to terminate the accounts of subscribers who frequently pirate content.

BMG claimed that Cox gave up its DMCA safe harbor protections due to this inaction, something District Court Judge Liam O’Grady agreed on last week in a summary judgment.

This order puts the Internet provider at a severe disadvantage while facing millions of dollars in damages. In a memorandum published a few hours ago Judge Liam O’Grady justified his decision.

According to the court there is enough evidence to conclude that Cox did not terminate the access of repeat infringers under appropriate circumstances.

“The record conclusively establishes that before the fall of 2012 Cox did not implement its repeat infringer policy. Instead, Cox publicly purported to comply with its policy, while privately disparaging and intentionally circumventing the DMCA’s requirements,” the memorandum (pdf) reads.

Judge O’Grady notes that Cox had a policy in place to deal with repeat infringers, but that in reality these users would simply be reconnected upon request. They would then start over with a clean slate.

“Cox employees followed an unwritten policy put in place by senior members of Cox’s abuse group by which accounts used to repeatedly infringe copyrights would be nominally terminated, only to be reactivated upon request.”

“Once these accounts were reactivated, customers were given clean slates, meaning the next notice of infringement Cox received linked to those accounts would be considered the first in Cox’s graduate response procedure,” O’Grady adds.

The Judge cites several emails and other communication from Jason Zabek, Cox’s Manager of Customer Abuse Operations, who instructs employees not to be too harsh. Keeping customers on board appears to be a prime motivation.

Below is a snippet from an email Zabek sent to a group of employees:

“After termination of DMCA, if you do suspend someone for another DMCA violation, you are not wrong. However, if the customer has a cox.net email we would like to start the warning cycle over, hold for more, etc. A clean slate if you will. This way, we can collect a few extra weeks of payments for their account. ;-)”


In other emails asking about whether repeat infringers should be reconnected Zabek replied with statements such as “It is fine. We need the customers,” “DMCA = reactivate,” and “You can make him wait a day or so if you want. ;-).”

In 2012 Cox abandoned this unofficial reactivation policy but that didn’t have a positive impact on the number of account terminations, on the contrary in fact.

The record shows that the number of disconnections dropped significantly, to less than one per month on average. In addition, emails show instances where Cox prefers to keep frequently pirating customers on board as they provide a significant revenue stream.

“BMG has identified specific instances in which Cox knew accounts were being used repeatedly for infringing activity yet failed to terminate,” Judge O’Grady writes.

“Cox does not seriously challenge these examples. Labeling them as ‘nothing more than conjecture and hyperbole,’ Cox argues that these snippets of conversations do not show what actions call centers actually took against accounts,” he adds.

For its part, Cox argued that it’s up to a court to decide that the appropriate response to infringement is the termination of the account of a subscriber, noting that copyright holder complaints may not always be accurate.

But Judge O’Grady disagrees and notes that when an ISP has actual knowledge that an account holder is a persistent pirate, his or her account should be terminated.

“Appropriate circumstances arise when an account holder is repeatedly or flagrantly infringing copyrights. Thus, when Cox had actual knowledge of particular account holders who blatantly or repeatedly infringed, the responsibility shifted to Cox to terminate their accounts,” he writes.

While BMG also submitted several other arguments, Judge O’Grady found the above sufficient to rule that Cox is not entitled to DMCA safe harbor protection.

The ruling means that it will be more difficult for Cox to defend itself against BMG’s copyright infringement claims. However, it will also raise alarm bells at various other U.S. Internet providers. At the moment it’s rare for ISPs to disconnect pirating users and this case has the potential to alter the landscape.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Source: TorrentFreak

Sky Users Receive Porn Piracy Threats in Time For Christmas

Last month news broke that a brand new flood of copyright infringement threats were about to land with UK-based Internet users.

“A company called Golden Eye International, which owns rights to several copyrighted films, has claimed that a number of Sky Broadband customers engaged in unlawful file sharing of some of its films,” ISP Sky told its subscribers in a warning letter.

“It’s likely that Golden Eye International will contact you directly and may ask you to pay them compensation.”

It’s taken several weeks but as promised Sky subscribers are now receiving letters from Golden Eye (GEIL) and partner firm Ben Dover Productions (BDP).

“It is with regret that we are writing this letter to you. However, GEIL and BDP are very concerned at the illicit distribution of films over the Internet,” the letter begins.

GEIL then explains that it is not the content owner but “the licensee authorized to enforce breach of copyright” on the adult movie titles referenced in the letters. To protect our sources we aren’t publishing the movie titles but to get an idea of the embarrassment some people are feeling right now, a full list of the movies can be found in GEIL’s license arrangement with BDP, available here (PDF).

As usual GEIL points out that it has hired a “forensic computer analyst” to track alleged infringers. However, in more than one instance it appears that GEIL is accusing people of downloading and sharing content in the summer of 2014. Expecting people to remember what happened so long ago could be a tall order.


“On 26 August 2015 Master Bowles, sitting in the High Court, ordered that SKY UK LTD give disclosure of your name and address, for the purpose of enabling us to send you this letter and if necessary bring legal proceedings against you,” the letter continues.

“In accordance with that Order, SKY UK identified you as the subscriber noted in their systems as on their network associated with the IP address on the date and at the time in question.”

As noted this past weekend ISPs can make mistakes too, but nevertheless GEIL’s letter clearly states that the account holder is assumed to be both the infringer and the user of the relevant computer at the date and time in question.

The company cannot possibly know this for certain since any number of people can have access to a household’s Internet access. Interestingly, they immediately admit that too.


Of course, if people are unaware of any infringement taking place they cannot reasonably be expected to furnish GEIL with that information. And while GEIL say they “may” ask the court to conclude that the account holder was the user of a an unspecified computer on a date 18 months ago, the court is also free to reject that assertion.

It’s also worth noting that GEIL have never engaged in a contested case in court, despite threatening to do so many times previously. What the company actually wants is a confession and hard cash.

“Once your response to this letter is received, GEIL and BDP will be prepared, if we believe that you have behaved unlawfully, to give you the opportunity to avoid legal action by proposing a settlement out of court,” the letter notes.

As previously instructed by the court GEIL is not allowed to ask for a specific amount in its initial letter, but recipients of second letters from the company will probably receive demands of up to £600 to £700 to put the matter to rest.

However, GEIL also tries to lure letter recipients in by suggesting that accidental infringement or that carried out by a child might result in a lower settlement amount being offered.


GEIL concludes by asking for a detailed confession or for the account holder to point the finger at members of their family or friends who have had access to their network.

“Please state whether you admit that you have downloaded the Work and/or made it available for download by others and if so the extent to which you have done so and whether you are prepared in principle to enter into a settlement of the kind outlined above,” GEIL adds.

“If you deny that you have downloaded the Work or made it available for download by others, please explain the basis upon which you deny it, and provide the information that we have requested above about other users of the computer.”

TorrentFreak has spoken to several letter recipients in the past few days. Only one said he was thinking of settling with GEIL.

People looking for legal advice can contact Southampton-based solicitor Michael Coyle who is handling these cases for a fraction of the amount requested by GEIL.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Source: TorrentFreak

Broke Again, Dotcom Asks Hong Kong Court For Millions

dotcom-laptopIn 2012, as Megaupload’s servers were being closed down in the U.S. and Dotcom’s New Zealand mansion was being raided by armed police, the entrepreneur’s offices in Hong Kong were being turned over by a reported 100 customs officers.

Under instruction from the U.S. government, HK$330 million (US$42.57m) in assets were seized and have remained restrained in Hong Kong ever since.

In April 2014, Megaupload launched legal action against the Hong Kong government, applying for the restraining order to be set aside while accusing the secretary for justice of procedural failings when the application for seizure was made.

In December 2014 came a breakthrough when a judge in the High Court set aside the restraining order. However, while an almost immediately lock was reapplied to Dotcom’s assets, a revised order granted Dotcom’s legal team the right to contest the asset freeze.

As part of that ongoing process, Dotcom’s lawyers were back in court this week asking for the release of large amounts of funds, the equivalent of US$2.3m to cover legal costs plus US$52,000 per month for his living expenses.

In keeping with argument presented at his recent extradition hearing in New Zealand, Dotcom’s legal team told the Hong Kong court that by restraining his funds and expecting him to mount a defense their client’s hands “were tied behind his back.”

SCMP reports that while Dotcom had a “world-class” legal team in the New Zealand hearing, he had no money left to pay them so had to use “junior lawyers.” Money had now run out in New Zealand, so the funds in Hong Kong were the next best option.

But just like last year when Hong Kong authorities were accused by Dotcom’s team of not making a “full disclosure” of the facts, this week the authorities sought to turn the tables.

Representing the government, prosecutor Wayne Walsh SC claimed Dotcom did the same after starting two new businesses and running transactions “worth hundreds of millions of dollars” through Hong Kong bank accounts. Dotcom was also criticized for not disclosing details of his living costs

Once a staunch supporter of Hong Kong, Dotcom now finds himself at the mercy of the country’s judges who to date have been much less flexible than their counterparts in New Zealand when it comes to releasing funds.

Back in May a New Zealand court released millions in funds to pay for Dotcom’s legal bills, plus $128K per month in living expenses.

A sizable $60K of that money was earmarked to pay the rent on Dotcom’s mansion, which has been reported to cost around $750,000 per annum under a lease signed in February 2013.

However, the terms of the agreement meant that Dotcom would ultimately have to buy the property or move out. It was reported in November that the entrepreneur would be moving to a waterfront penthouse apartment on “fashionable” Princes Wharf instead.

“It’s significantly more humble than what I am used to but that’s okay,” Dotcom said last month. “I am also not living with a partner any more, we have reduced our staff numbers significantly and this place feels a little bit big now.”

The hearing in Hong Kong continues.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Source: TorrentFreak