Aptoide is a third-party alternative to Google’s official Play Store. Among other things, it allows users to install a variety of apps on their Android devices.
The marketplace, which is operated from Portugal, recently accused Google of anti-competitive behavior after is was flagged as being insecure.
The brawl with Google is not Aptoide’s only concern though. A few weeks ago the company was sued by two movie outfits; TBV Productions and Hunter Killer Productions. These are the companies behind the movies “I Feel Pretty” and “Hunter Killer” respectively.
The movie outfits, which are not new to piracy-related lawsuits, accuse Aptoide of facilitating massive piracy. Specifically, the complaint states that the company induces, encourages and promotes the use of Popcorn Time and Showbox for blatant copyright infringement.
Popcorn Time and Showbox are free applications that allow users to stream video. They both support BitTorrent streaming and are regularly linked to piracy. This has led to legal issues for developers in the past, and the two movie companies are now expanding this to the app marketplace.
“Plaintiffs bring this action to stop the massive piracy of their motion pictures brought on by the software applications Show Box app and Popcorn Time,” the complaint reads.
The movie companies note that Aptoide marks both apps as “Trusted” which means that they are “100% safe.” While that refers to potential security issues, the Plaintiffs see it as an endorsement.
According to Aptoide’s stats the two apps are quite popular. Popcorn Time was reportedly downloaded between 500,000 and 3 million times, while Showbox is credited with 5 to 25 million downloads. No surprise, perhaps, as both apps are described as great sources to get free movies.
The Showbox app is described as “all you’ll ever need to watch movies and tv shows for free” and “The app supports torrent downloads…” Popcorn Time’s description reads “The legendary app lets you stream and watch movies and TV shows for free…”
According to the movie companies, it’s clear that Aptoide promotes the apps for infringing uses.
“Defendant Aptoide promotes Popcorn Time and the Show Box app
overwhelmingly, if not exclusively, for purposes of infringing Copyright protected content, including Plaintiffs’,” they write.
As such, the rightsholders demand statutory damages for the alleged infringing activities, which could reach $150,000 per work, as well as an injunction to stop Aptoide from offering these apps to the public.
However, it seems that the injunction is no longer required as Aptoide has already removed the apps from its marketplace. The original Showbox and Popcorn Time URLs, which are listed in the complaint, now return an error.
“We could not find the App you are looking for. Try to use the search form above to find your App,” the error reads.
Several other Popcorn Time apps were removed as well, even though they were not listed in the complaint.
It’s not clear when the apps were removed but it happened after the lawsuit was filed. The movie companies mention that TBV Productions, Inc. tried to get the apps removed before the complaint was filed, but to no avail.
It appears that the legal action may have motivated Aptoide to spring into action. We reached out to the company for a comment on the app removal and the lawsuit, but at the time of writing we haven’t heard back.
While the case remains ongoing for now, Aptoide’s recent actions suggest that it’s willing to resolve the matter. However, that likely means that they will have to keep a close eye on other apps as well, because a new Showbox was just added to their repository.
Update: A motion to dismiss the case against Aptoide was submitted shortly after we published this article. According to the filing, the parties “have resolved” the matter.
A copy of the complaint TBV Productions and Hunter Killer Productions filed against against Aptoide is available here (pdf).