Branded a “Netflix for Pirates,” the Popcorn Time app quickly gathered a user base of millions of people over the past year.
The application has some of the major media giants worried, including Netflix which sees the pirate app as a serious competitor to its business.
Since Popcorn Time is powered by BitTorrent it is hard to stop the downloads directly, but copyright holders can go after the websites that offer the application. In Israel the local anti-piracy outfit ZIRA went down this route.
The group, which represents several media companies, applied for an ex parte injunction ordering local Internet providers to block access to the websites of several Popcorn Time forks.
This week the Tel Aviv court granted the application, arguing that the application does indeed violate the rights of copyright holders.
The copyright holders are pleased with the outcome, which shows that services such as Popcorn Time are infringing even though they don’t host any files themselves.
“The Popcorn Time software provides users with a service to stream and download content on the Internet, including Israeli movies and foreign movies and TV series with English subtitles, without having any permission from copyright holders to do so,” attorney Presenti told local media.
The ISP blockades will prevent people from downloading Popcorn Time in the future. However, applications that have been downloaded already will continue to work for now.
To address this, ZIRA’s lawyers say the are considering additional steps including the option to block the ports Popcorn Time uses. While that may be effective, it may also block other traffic, especially if the app switches to more common ports such as port 80.
Israel is the second country to block access to Popcorn Time websites. Last month the UK High Court issued a similar order, which also targeted the domain names of various APIs the applications use.