In little more than a year Popcorn Time has become a household name on the Internet.
The software amassed millions of users by offering BitTorrent-powered streaming in an easy-to-use Netflix-style interface.
This attraction has drawn a lot of attention from the press, which makes the “Popcorn Time” brand an ideal tool for anti-piracy outfits to promote their work.
In recent months various movie studios have launched lawsuits against Popcorn Time users, for example. In practice these cases target the same BitTorrent swarms as the thousands of other lawsuits that have been filed in recent years, but a press release quoting “Popcorn Time” ensures mainstream coverage.
Struggling piracy monetization firm Rightscorp has the same idea. A few hours ago the company published a press release announcing their new “Popcorn Time Protection” service.
“The service includes 365x24x7 monitoring of the Popcorn Time network and associated data collection and reporting services,” the company announces.
While the name is new, the service does nothing more than what Rightscorp currently offers. After all, traditional BitTorrent pirates and Popcorn Time users are connected to the same swarms and are downloading the same files.
Rightscorp monitors these swarms and through Internet providers they send DMCA notices to the pirating IP-addresses, asking the account holders to pay $30 per copyright infringement. These IP-addresses can belong to both Popcorn Time and regular BitTorrent users.
The anti-piracy company nonetheless leverages the ‘brand’ to lure Hollywood studios into becoming customers. Warner Bros. is already on board and by focusing on Popcorn Time’s momentum they hope others will follow.
“Popcorn Time is a clear and present danger to Hollywood and directly threatens the right of the creators and owners of content to determine how their content is distributed,” CEO Christopher Sabec says.
The company cites Netflix’s warning against the application as well as other news items. In addition the CEO claims that the software is immune to some other anti-piracy measures.
“We believe our new Popcorn Time Protection service is the only scalable solution for this major threat to Hollywood. Popcorn Time is unaffected by domain blocking and by DMCA takedown notices,” Sabec notes.
This is where Rightscorp appears to misunderstand or at least bend the truth. Popcorn Time relies heavily on centralized third party services, such as the YTS torrent site, which accepts DMCA notices and can easily have its domain name seized or blocked.
This point is also brought up by the developers of the PopcornTime.io fork, who accuse Rightscorp of “using a popular name to surf the wave and impress the markets.”
“While there’s nothing new in what they offer, its name catched [sic] our attention,” the team says of the Rightscorp ‘product’.
Finally, the Popcorn Time team draws attention to VPNs, which render Rightscorp’s monitoring model useless. For some reason that’s a detail the anti-piracy company conveniently left out of its press release.