The popular Android-based app Showbox is used by millions of people.
It allows users to stream movies and TV shows via torrents and direct sources, all through a Netflix-style interface.
Many of these videos are pirated. This is a thorn in the side of the movie industry, and some companies are doing everything in their power to contain the problem.
Earlier this year a large coalition of independent movie studios, including the makers of Dallas Buyers Club, filed lawsuits against several websites that distributed Showbox.
In one case, they obtained a subpoena ordering Cloudflare to reveal the identities of the operators behind Showboxbuzz.com, Showbox.software, Rawapk.com, Popcorn-time.to, Popcorntime.sh, YTS.ag, and YTS.gg.
In a related case, GoDaddy was ordered to reveal the identity of the domain registrant of Showboxappdownload.com.
These requests for information triggered a response from the operators. On the same day last month, the Showboxappdownload.com operator and the person who uploaded the app to Rawapk asked the court to quash the subpoena, so they could proceed under a pseudonym.
Before the courts ruled on the matter, both defendants, who could be one and the same, settled their cases. As a result, both cases were dismissed last week without revealing their identities.
The terms of the settlements are not public. However, if we look at the sites in question they no longer link to the Showbox app. The Showbox file was removed from Rawapk and showboxappdownload.com now shows a warning.
The message, which is likely part of the settlement, makes it clear that Showbox can be used for infringing purposes. In addition, it warns users that they may be tracked.
“Show Box is NOT a legitimate software platform for viewing Copyright protected movies. If you use ShowBoxApp to view copyrighted movies, the movie studios may be able to see your IP address and your viewing history,” it begins.
While it’s hard for copyright holders to track pirating users who use Showbox to stream from central servers, those who use torrents can indeed get in trouble. The warning makes that pretty clear as well.
“Movie studios are cracking down on illegal downloading and are filing lawsuits against users of ShowBox app. Websites that promote and/or distribute ShowBox are also being pursued by the movie studios for promoting illegal activity,” it adds.
The message is obviously meant to deter visitors from using the app, but there’s some truth to it.
The plaintiffs involved in these case include Bodyguard Productions, Cobbler Nevada, Criminal Productions, Dallas Buyers Club, and Venice PI, which have all sued individual BitTorrent users.
The warning message is not limited to Showboxdownload.com either. A similarly worded notice appears on Showboxbuzz.com, which was also targeted in the Cloudflare subpoena earlier.
With the settlements, the cases against two defendants are now over. However, the aforementioned movie companies are not done with Showbox yet. They filed an amended complaint which lists the Indian company Galbatross Technologies as one of the main targets.
The movie companies allege that Galbatros, which describes itself as a “performance driven digital marketing agency,” is a driving force behind the showboxappdownload.co site that remains online today.
Based on information provided by hosting company Digital Ocean, the movie studios learned that Galbatross operates the website showbox.co, which shared a virtual server with showboxappdownload.co.
In addition, one of the defendants also admitted that he worked with Galbatros on the site in question.
“Defendant Himanshu Saxena has admitted that Defendants Galbatross, Gaurav Jaggi and he owned, hosted and were involved with showboxappdownload.co in an email communication,” the amended complaint reads.
The site itself lists Mark Willow as owner and Andy Crow as the supposed founder of Showbox.
The movie companies believe that these persons do not exist, at least not to the extent the website describes. There are no records of the associated corporation Showbox Inc, they add, noting that the California address doesn’t exist either.
The complaint further lists the website show-box.en.uptodown.com/android as well as several other named defendants, who are all accused of copyright infringement through their involvement with the Showbox app.
The movie companies hope that the lawsuit will put a dent in Showbox’s popularity. They want the sites to shut down and hope to recoup some of the claimed damages as well.
And perhaps they’ll put up more warnings too.
A copy of the proposed amended complaint, which has yet to be accepted by the court, is available here (pdf).