With an intuitive and easy to use interface, Popcorn Time has become the go-to service for users who, let’s be honest, want to pirate TV shows and movies. Underscoring how much easier the service is to use than traditional BitTorrent clients, the ascension of Popcorn Time has resulted in an absolute explosion in piracy since its 2014 launch. Norway in particular has experienced a huge increase in piracy, with some estimates claiming that 15% of the population there has viewed pirated content within the last 12 months.
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Not surprisingly, Norway is extremely vigilant about trying to keep piracy under control. That being the case, TorrentFreak is reporting that the Rights Alliance — an anti-piracy group — has amassed information on anywhere from 50,000 to 75,000 Popcorn Time users. While gathering IP addresses is one thing, the Rights Alliance has said that pirates should be expecting a “surprise in the mail”, language which suggests that it may be planning to go through the appropriate court procedures in order to force ISPs to map IP addresses to individual users.
“These are records we can lawfully use,” Rights Alliance head Willy Johansen said, “and it could be that someone gets a little surprise in the mail in the form of a letter. It’s probable that something will happen in the fall.”
The Rights Alliance can certainly talk a big game but it’s important to remember that actually obtaining a list of names of accused pirates is fraught with legal challenges.
“In relation to the legislation we have in Norway, Rights Alliance is fully entitled to collect IP addresses of Popcorn Time users. This is not problematic as we see it,” explains Inspectorate Director Bjorn Erik Thon.
“Rights Alliance may collect IP addresses, but to find out the identities of who is behind them requires a trial,” he notes.
The report adds that even when individual users are identified, it must still be proven that the accused infringer either intentionally or negligently viewed or shared pirated content.
Notably, this is the second story in as many weeks where individual Popcorn Time users have been targeted by various entities. Just last week we reported that the film studio behind Adam Sandler’s universally panned The Cobbler filed a lawsuit against 14 John and Jane Does (identified only via their IP address) who were discovered to have watched or shared the movie via Popcorn Time.