4 September 2015

Netflix has been tearing it up in Australia since its launch in March of this year. In fact, within four months of its launch, Netflix gathered a 1.42 million following in Australia alone. With a market capitalisation of over $45 billion, the cheap and accessible Netflix model makes it a great alternative and serious competitor in the media sector worldwide.

Like with Spotify and music, some have hoped that Netflix might discourage people from pirating the TV shows and films they can now access easily through their platform. However, the rising popularity of pirating site, Popcorn Time, just shows if it’s free, the internet will eat it.

Popcorn Time is the “Netflix for Pirates

Popcorn Time is a free-downloadable app that provides a large library of up-to-date movies and tv shows. Better yet, it is all ‘free’. Popcorn Time, itself, is technically legal as it does not access the host server for all its files. It is a platform for sharing files between home computers around the world, and it does not make a profit off the pirated content in any way.

But don’t get happy just yet. If you are using Popcorn Time, you may be engaging in illegal activity.

Popcorn Time has been blocked in the UK earlier this year following a successful legal challenge by the who’s who of Hollywood studios, including Disney, Warner Bros and Twentieth Century Fox. It hasn’t stopped there.

The studio behind the movie “Survivor” has commenced legal proceedings against 16 parties that used Popcorn Time to watch their movie illegally. It claims that the movie has been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times, and over 10,000 originating from Oregon. The studio also claims that each user of Popcorn Time allegedly joins a “conspiracy to jointly commit theft of copyrighted material”.

This is the second case in the US against Popcorn Time users in the US in August. The first case was against 11 users who watched Adam Sandler’s “The Cobbler”. It is a big risk to take for a movie with a 9% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Legal challenges against Popcorn Time has also reached Norway. A pro-copyright lobbying group is threatening to sue 50,000 – 75,000 people that they have recorded on their database using Popcorn Time.

What do I do if I have used Popcorn Time in Australia?

Simple; stop doing so. Be responsible. While Popcorn Time has not been the subject of legal proceedings in Australia as of yet, the Dallas Buyers Club saga is setting a precedent in relation to torrenting. Have a look at our articles “Downloaded Dallas Buyers Club?”, “What Does the Dallas Buyers Club Case Mean for Downloaders” and “Update on the Dallas Buyers Club Saga” for more information.

If you are unsure about your potential liability, call us on 1800 LAWPATH. Let us know what you think of the recent crackdowns on torrenting by tagging us @lawpath and/or #lawpath.

Dominic Woolrych

Dominic is the CEO of LawPath, dedicating his days to making legal easier, faster and more accessible to businesses. Dominic is a recognised thought-leader in Australian legal disruption, and was recognised as a winner of the 2015 Australian Legal Innovation Index.