Popcorn Time, the Netflix-like streaming service that delivers pirated movies to users, has battled legal difficulties since it launched, and the pile of complaints leveled against it just got a little bit bigger. Indie studio Millennium Films and its affiliate Nu Image filed a lawsuit against Popcorn Time users in Oregon today, claiming they were responsible for more than 10,000 illegal downloads of the 2015 assassin movie Survivor, which starred Pierce Brosnan and Milla Jovovich.
Brosnan would not approve
A formal complaint has been filed against 16 individual Popcorn Time users in the state, who have been accused of downloading and distributing multiple copies of Survivor across the Bit Torrent network. The studios claim they are making an example of these "habitual copyright infringers" to prove a point about the effects of piracy on film. The law allows for each defendant to be fined up to $150,000, but the studio says if the copyright infringers comply with their requests immediately, they'll agree to resolve each case for the "statutory minimum in damages," which is $750.
The studio argues Popcorn Time is no different than walking into a store and stealing a DVD:
It is our belief that the transfer of data, storing of physical data locally on a hard drive and facilitation and redistribution of stolen data to others should be considered a ‘physical taking’ under Oregon law and we felt compelled to take this opportunity to fight back and ensure that those who choose to engage in this type of behavior face real repercussions, just as a person would if they shoplifted a DVD or other physical consumer product from a retailer.
Popcorn Time launched last year, but its creators shut it down after a week, citing ongoing legal concerns. The BitTorrent site YTS soon picked the project back up, and the legal difficulties began again almost immediately. In December of 2014, Hollywood studios fined US users for illegally downloading Dallas Buyers Club. Earlier this year, movie studios in the UK won the first injunction against the service, effectively banning the app from the UK. In Denmark last week, two men were arrested for running sites that made it easier for people to use Popcorn Time.
Millennium and Nu Image were the studios behind Expendables 3, a movie that was leaked online weeks before its official release in 2014. The studios estimate that leak cost them $161 million in revenue.