Ever since the rise of Popcorn Time more than six years ago, developers have been coming up with similar-looking clones to try and grab a slice of the market.
Given the massive reach of Android, which can be found running on phones, tablets and set-top devices, this operating system is the weapon of choice for most coders. As a result there are hundreds of apps available online today that provide ostensibly free access to pirated movies and TV shows.
The Motion Picture Association, which these days includes Netflix, and the global anti-piracy coalition ACE, have been working hard to hold back the tide but like the little boy and the dam, plugging a hole at a time seems a neverending task.
A New Android-based Target for the MPA
The latest target for the MPA is Movies Time, a relative newcomer to the space having appeared online less than a year ago. The developer identifies variously as Prince Sharma and/or Audionetime and markets his app as follows:
“Tired of annoying ads interrupting your entertainment? Not anymore!! We at Movies Time welcomes you to the world of hassle free entertainment.
“Movies time is the most awaited app where you can get access to latest movies, web series and LiveTv on your fingertips ‘free of cost’,” the blurb reads.
“Add movies and web series to your watch-list from our largest library including Bollywood, Hollywood, Tollywood, Punjabi and much more on the go on your smartphone.”
This, of course, is a problem for the MPA and this week it became a problem for Github too.
“We are writing to notify you of, and request your assistance in addressing, the extensive copyright infringement of motion pictures and television shows that is occurring by virtue of the operation of the infringing service titled ‘Movies Time’,” the MPA complaint to Github reads.
“Movies Time is a software application – specifically an APK – that is preconfigured to provide unauthorized access to copyrighted motion pictures and television shows; a user need only download the APK, and on launch it will allow the user to search for, select and stream large numbers of copyrighted motion pictures and television shows, without any further configuration by the user, and all without authorization.”
According to the MPA, Github provides ‘supporting services’ to Movies Time including hosting its repository, hosting its website, and hosting the app (APK). As a result it asked the Microsoft-owned platform to take preventative action.
“Movies Time – your customer – blatantly infringes the MPA Member Studios’ copyrights and countless other copyrights. Indeed, copyright infringement is so prevalent on Movies Tim that infringement plainly is its predominant use and purpose,” the MPA complaint reads.
“By this notification, we are asking for your immediate assistance in stopping your customer’s unauthorized activity. Specifically, we request that you cease providing all supporting services to Movies Time, by (1) removing or disabling access to the infringing Website, and (2) removing the APK from your Repository…”
DMCA Takedown Complete But ‘Movies Time’ Pops Up Elsewhere
The MPA provided Github with a list of infringing works and asked the platform to consider the repeat infringer provision of the DMCA and breaches of its own acceptable use policy. All this appears to have been enough for Github which has now disabled access to the repository and the Movies Time website.
Of course, with these type of applications there is more than one hole to plug. Movies Time has a domain, MoviesTimeApp.xyz, which previously linked to the website hosted on Github. While that was rendered useless yesterday, any visitors to that domain today are now given a ‘drive-by’ download of the Movies Time APK – whether they wanted one or not.
Also, the MoviesTime Telegram channel remains in operation and its growing membership now exceeds 25,600 users, a figure apparently swelled by the Github takedown.
Like many ‘pirate’ APKs, it’s interesting to note that MoviesTime may have a piracy problem of its own. A cursory search reveals several sites offering a modded version of the application which claims to have ads and banner placeholders removed and ads during playback disabled. The mod also states that analytics, unneeded permissions and root check code have been removed.
Why any app would need the final pair in place is open to debate so perhaps needless to say, installing either variant isn’t recommended.