As regular readers of BestPN will know, we are huge fans of Popcorn Time, the ridiculously easy-to-use, elegant, and smooth functioning ‘Netflix for pirates’ app that is seriously one in the eye for copyright enforcement freaks.
Unfortunately, perhaps because the app is so polished and professional, it seems that some users have forgotten that watching movies using it is in many countries considered copyright infringement (piracy), and may leave users open to criminal or civil prosecution.
This point has been underlined by reports from Germany, where a number of users of a Spanish language fork of Popcorn Time known as Cuevana Storm have received demands for cash settlement over alleged copyright infringement by the law firm Waldorf Frommer.
The victims contacted German law firm GGR Law, complaining that they had not downloaded any copyrighted material, but had streamed content using Cuevana Storm. Fortunately, in Germany the government ruled in January that watching pirated streamed content is not illegal following a high profile case involving around 10,000 RedTube viewers (although the matter has yet to be decided by the European Court of Justice).
The confusion comes because Popcorn Time (and therefore Cuevana Storm) uses BitTorrent P2P technology to stream movies and TV shows, and traffic streamed in this way looks identical to a tracker to regular BitTorrent download traffic.
The outcome of the demands in Germany is as yet undecided, but as streaming is not illegal there we imagine (and hope) that the accused will be able to use this as a valid defence.
When writing about Popcorn Time in the past we have always been careful to remind readers to always use VPN when streaming using the app (or any of its variants), and following this news again urge users to always use VPN when streaming with Popcorn Time! In other countries the legal status of streaming copyrighted material is a very grey area, and the results of legal action highly unpredictable. Even if you can successfully argue that streaming is not illegal in your country, the simple precaution of using a VPN could save you a great deal of money, stress, and grey hairs!