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Piracy app Popcorn Time to be blocked in the UK

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Hollywood studios win first legal injunction against popular app

Popular streaming app Popcorn Time will be blocked in the UK after a successful legal challenge from Hollywood movie studios. The app — which has been dubbed "Netflix for pirates" thanks to its slick and easy-to-use interface — will be banned under the same laws used to target torrent sites like The Pirate Bay. Although Popcorn Time launched just over a year ago, it has already attracted considerable attention from both pirates and copyright holders. The app uses established BitTorrent technology to download illegal content, but industry experts have noted that its integrated media player and catalog of titles make it much more attractive to casual internet users.

The ban is likely to be largely ineffective

Thanks to this week's High Court judgement, the UK's five biggest ISPs — BT, EE, Sky, TalkTalk, and Virgin Media — are required to restrict customers' access to sites offering downloads of Popcorn Time. Although this is the first time the app has been targeted in this way anywhere in the world, it's likely that the ban will be largely ineffective. Torrent sites such as The Pirate Bay have been officially blocked in the UK for a while now, but are still accessible thanks to workarounds such as proxies that re-route internet traffic through other countries. Research from intellectual property firm Incopro even claims that sites blocked by ISPs in this way retain 73 percent of their original traffic and continue to attract users. If these stats also prove true for Popcorn Time, then it seems that Hollywood will have to find a better way of battling the app than simply banning it country by country.