Popcorn Time, the application that became known as the ‘Netflix for Pirates’, first appeared in 2014. It was a massive success and arguably paved the way for the dozens of similar piracy apps currently available on the Android and iOS platforms.
In its various guises, Popcorn Time itself managed to attract the negative attention of copyright holders who were determined to reduce the availability and visibility of the popular piracy tool. At the same time, others worked counter to these goals, either by creating their own forks of the software, distributing them, or producing guides and tutorials.
Arrests in Denmark and Guilty Verdict
Following a court order in June 2015, police in Denmark arrested two men in their thirties for operating two sites – Popcorntime.dk and Popcorn-time.dk. Neither linked to pirated content but instead provided guides on how to use Popcorn Time while providing information on where the software could be downloaded.
In 2018, the operator of Popcorntime.dk was handed a conditional six-month prison sentence after court ruled that by spreading information about Popcorn Time, he played a part in the infringements carried out by users of the software.
The defendant appealed the decision to the High Court but without success. The case was subsequently heard by the Supreme Court but that was no more effective, with the now 41-year-old man held liable for contributory copyright infringement last January. He was handed a six-month conditional sentence, 120 hours of community service, and a confiscation order for around $67,000 in advertising revenue.
Guilty Plea By The Operator of Popcorn-time.dk
Given the outcome in the earlier prosecution of the Popcorntime.dk operator, the man behind Popcorn-time.dk was left with few options to effectively fight his corner. According to a new announcement by anti-piracy group Rights Alliance, which was deeply involved in both cases, the man eventually took the decision to plead guilty.
The case was heard at the court in Odense, which ruled that in common with the operator of Popcorntime.dk, the person behind Popcorn-time.dk also contributed to the copyright infringements carried out by regular users of Popcorn Time.
“From August 2014 to August 2015, the 38-year-old on the website popcorn-time.dk recommended and guided users to download and use the illegal streaming service Popcorn Time. Defendants have also received about 10,000 kroner (US$1,565) in advertising revenue from Google for ads on the site,” Rights Alliance reports.
“Defendant confessed his complicity in the dissemination of the illegal streaming service and was thus convicted of complicity in the copyright infringements that occur using Popcorn Time.”
As a result of the confession, the 38-year-old was handed a conditional sentence of 20 days probation and subjected to a confiscation order to seize the advertising revenue generated by the site. The domain name popcorn-time.dk was also forfeited.
Rights Alliance says the differences in the sentences between this and the earlier case can be put down to the more detailed coverage of the Popcorntime.dk platform and the scale of the revenues it generated. Courts also tend to look more favorably on defendants who admit guilt rather than those who defend a case only to be found guilty.