Roadshow, Netflix seek to block open source Popcorn Time app

New anti-piracy effort also targets proxy services, subtitle downloads

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Village Roadshow is spearheading a new effort to obtain Federal Court orders directing major Australian ISPs to block their customers from accessing eighty-seven online services accused of facilitating piracy.

The effort is backed by Netflix Studios, the production arm of the streaming leviathan, as well as a group of US movie studios, Hong Kong’s Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB), and Australian distributor Madman Anime Group.

In addition to sites that offer illicit streaming, BitTorrent or direct downloads, and links to sites that provide search or index services for pirate material, the application, which seeks orders under Section 115a of the Copyright Act, also targets services offering unauthorised subtitle downloads and the home page of the Popcorn Time software.

Popcorn Time is an open source, BitTorrent-based application available for iOS, Android and Windows devices. The site targeted by the application offers downloads of the client as well as access to its source code, which is licensed under GPL v3.

“Since we can't publish it on Github anymore, we're publishing it here for you all to see, learn and use and as always it is under full GPL V3 license,” a note on the website states. “We're super curious so see what kind of awesome projects come out of this code, so go wild!”

A court document lodged by the applicants state that the among the target online locations are those that allow end users to “download software which, once installed on a user's personal computer, allows that user to view cinematograph films, being motion pictures, television programs or other audio-visual content, on that device when it is connected to the Internet”.

Roadshow and TVB have previously been successful in seeking court orders to block online locations linked to streaming apps.

Also targeted by the application are a group of proxy services that offer users the ability to evade site blocks affecting a range services that provide unauthorised access to copyright material (although the group of proxy sites, which appear to use the same template, also offer access to Reddit and the Internet Archive).

If granted, the site-blocking application would affect the customers of Telstra, Optus, Vocus, TPG and Vodafone, as well as their subsidiaries.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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