For many years media companies have focused their anti-piracy efforts on pirate sites, including torrent and streaming portals.
More recently, these efforts expanded to streaming boxes, with the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE) targeting several vendors of such devices.
This week, a group of independent movie studios has targeted yet another largely overlooked element of the piracy ecosystem. Dallas Buyers Club, Cobbler Nevada, Bodyguard Productions, and several other studios are going after the popular Android-based app Showbox.
Showbox hasn’t caught many headlines, but the tool is used by hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people. It allows users to stream movies and TV shows via torrents and direct sources, all through a Netflix-style interface.
In a lawsuit filed at the US District Court of Hawaii, the movie companies are now taking action against several people and sites which distribute the application.
This includes the alleged founder and developer ‘Andrew Crow,’ Showboxappdownload.co founder ‘Mark Willow,’ and the people behind Showboxappdownload.com and Showbox.en.uptodown.com/android.
In addition, the complaint also targets the persons who made the application available on Rawapk.com/showbox-apk-download/, a repository of APK files.
“Plaintiffs bring this action to stop the massive piracy of their motion pictures brought on by the software application Show Box app,” the complaint reads.
“The Defendants misleadingly promote the Show Box app as a legitimate means for viewing content to the public, who eagerly install the Show Box app to watch copyright protected content, thereby leading to profit for the Defendants.”
The lawsuit follows on the heels of another case where a phone store employee was accused of promoting the Showbox app. Similar to that case, the current lawsuit also relies on input from an alleged user of the application. In this case, that’s Hawaiian resident James Sosa.
“I visited the website showboxappdownload.com and followed the instructions on the website to download the Show Box app to my Dell tablet,” Sosa testifies. “The language on the website led me to believe that I could use the Show Box app to watch free movies legally.”
According to the movie studios, most of which have thus far been very active in filing lawsuits against individual BitTorrent downloaders, Showbox is a pirate tool, plain and simple.
“Defendants promote the use of the Show Box app user for overwhelmingly, if not exclusively, infringing purposes, and that is how the users use the Show Box app,” the studios write.
The defendants all stand accused of contributory copyright infringement. The studios are asking the court for actual or statutory damages to compensate their losses, as well as temporary, preliminary and permanent injunctions to stop the allegedly infringing activities.
In addition, the studios also request an order preventing internet search engines, hosting companies, domain-name registrars, and domain name registries to stop facilitating access to the allegedly infringing domain names and websites.
The two recent Showbox related cases reveal an interesting trend. Where many of these movie studios were previously engaged in so-called copyright trolling lawsuits, they are now going after the people who promote, develop, and distribute a popular streaming app. It will be interesting to see if this trend continues.
A copy of the complaint filed by Venice PI, Headhunter, MON, LHF Productions, Cook Productions, Glacier Films, Colossal Movie Productions, Automata Productions, Criminal Productions, Dallas Buyers Club, Clear Skies Nevada, Bodyguard Productions, I.T. Productions, SVZ Productions, Splintered, Cobbler Nevada and Justice Everywhere Productions is available here (pdf).