High Court blocks the the “Torrenting App that is too good to be Legal”

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High Court blocks the the “Torrenting App that is too good to be Legal”

May 4th, 2015, Blog
Skull Cross on Black Flag

In Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporations and others v Sky UK Limited and others, the High Court blocked access via various internet service providers (ISPs) to Popcorn Time, a torrent streaming app. This is the latest in a series of actions blocking access to websites that although may not themselves host unlicensed content, provide links to that content. Typically, the action is brought against the internet service providers who do not oppose the orders and many of the orders have been granted ‘on paper’ without hearings. In this case though, as Popcorn Time worked in a different way as the application runs on the user’s computer and does not link back to the site it was downloaded on, this raised new issues. Even though the application was initially made on paper, the Court insisted on a hearing stating that if substantive new issues fall to be considered the matter is unlikely to be suitable for being dealt with on paper. In the judgement, while the Court did not hold that the sites communicated the films to the public (which would have been a breach of copyright law) the Court found the operators of the sites were ‘joint tortfeasors’ with the operators of the sites which actually hosted the content and those people who uploaded the films to the host websites. On that basis, the Court felt it proportional to order that the internet service providers block access to Popcorn Time

More than 100 torrent and streaming sites have been blocked in the UK recent years, but now the High Court has made its first move against sites offering downloads of movie streaming software.Ê

Following complaints from Hollywood’s Motion Picture Association over pirated content, the High Court issued an order forcing internet providers Virgin, BT, Sky, EE and TalkTalk to block five sites that provide access to movie streaming service Popcorn Time.Ê


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