Music Group Threatens Popcorn Time’s Blog Platform

In what could be one of the most unusual anti-piracy moves yet, an open source blogging platform has been threatened by the music industry after movie-focused Popcorn Time simply used the company's software. Ghost founder John O'Nolan is surprised and decidedly unimpressed.

popcorncensorIn a few weeks time the Popcorn Time phenomenon will reach a symbolic milestone when the ‘Netflix for Pirates’ celebrates its first birthday.

Of course, after serving millions of users in a short space of time, copyright holders have their eyes on the now-several forks of the popular project. Today we have news of yet another effort to limit the software’s reach.

PopcornTime.io is considered by many to be the true successor to the original Popcorn Time project that was shut down just weeks after it launched in 2014. Its development team is proudly open source and operates with an ethos closely aligned with that of the original team. It also receives similar legal threats and the latest to involve the project is somewhat of a head-scratcher.

PopcornTime.io has a blog where it publishes important updates. The latest entry heralds the project’s latest Android client in all its bug-fixed glory. It’s presented using the Ghost open source blogging platform and quite bizarrely copyright holders are trying to change that.

“The Greek equivalent of RIAA are threatening @TryGhost with legal action because we host @popcorntimetv’s blog,” Ghost founder John O’Nolan said this week.

“Good luck with that, Greece.”

Somewhat intrigued, TorrentFreak contacted O’Nolan – the former Deputy Head of the WordPress UI Group – who confirmed the threats.

“We were incredibly shocked to be contacted by a representative in 2015 requesting the personal information of one of our users without any basis. The clear lack of understanding here is worrying on many levels,” O’Nolan told TF.

And it gets worse. In the first instance O’Nolan thought that his company was actually hosting Popcorn Time’s blog, but in fact its being hosted by the project itself. All O’Nolan does is offer the completely neutral Ghost blogging platform.

To try and get to the bottom of this curious situation we contacted the organization targeting Popcorn Time. AEPI, the Greek Society for the Protection of Intellectual Property, did not officially respond to our request for comment. However, we did manage to learn more about this music group’s claim.

It appears that since Popcorn Time allows people to download movies and TV shows that have music playing in the background, AEPI believes that Popcorn Time should pay royalties and/or a music licensing fee to do so legally in Greece.

While it seems unlikely that the project is interested in any such license, the complaint to Ghost has only warmed relations between the blogging platform and Popcorn Time.

“If you ever have a need for more security/encryption features – don’t hesitate to reach out,” O’Nolan ‏informed the project. “Likewise if you have any trouble with your current host, we’ll host you.”

And as far as Popcorn Time are concerned, there’s only one blogging platform for them.

“We use Ghost as our blogging platform because it’s lightweight yet packed full of features. Unlike WordPress you can concentrate on writing your post. Throw in the fact it’s open source and written on Node.js and it’s the perfect match!” the team told TF.

It’s not been a good 2015 for AEPI thus far. Earlier this month the anti-piracy group lost its bid to have various torrent sites blocked by local ISPs. The Athens Court ruled that barring access to torrent sites such as KickassTorrents and The Pirate Bay would be disproportionate, unconstitutional, and would hinder ISPs’ entrepreneurial freedoms.

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