Beware of a Popcorn Time warning letter
As it is often the case in life, the lines between the good guys and the bad guys are not far apart. On the Internet, this gray area is even more difficult to define. At first glance, the popcorntime.is website does not look very different from the websites of other providers for movie streaming and file sharing services. However, the matter becomes a bit more disturbing if one investigates more closely. At the latest when reading that the website is ‘Free’ and that it is a ‘multi-client-platform’ you should make most potential users skeptical!
What stands behind the Free Movie App, Popcorn-Time?
Directly underneath the email address “email@example.com”, which is the only contact option on the website, you will find information about the so-called ‘TOS’ – Terms and Conditions, which are printed in font size 7 or 8. Just like the Contactdetails the TOS are likewise not very informative. The providers (‘a bunch of geeks’) of the website do basically not assume any responsibility (‘liablity’) for the use of Popcorn Time.
Besides the clear disclaimer, in which YIFY disclaims any liability for all areas and legal violations including ‘non-infringement’, especially the note on the acceptance of the terms and conditions is very questionable:
“YIFY DISCLAIMS ALL WARRANTIES, EXPRESSED OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, NON-INFRINGEMENT, OR OTHER VIOLATIONS OF RIGHTS.”
‘If you are under 13 years of age, then please do not use the Service. There are lots of other great web sites for you. Talk to your parents about what sites are appropriate for you.’
The expectation that a consumer is able to check all the information in advance and as a 12-13 year old is able to recognize whether the use of the website is only permitted at the age of 13 and in this case has to leave the site immediately, is not to be assumed in principle. In addition, no average consumer in Germany can know that the abbreviation YIFY is the group banned since 2015 by the American organization ‘Motion Picture Association of America’ (MPAA), which was known for the free distribution of an immense number of movies and free downloads through so-called BitTorrents.
First Resume about Popcorn Time and the Popcorn Time App
Obviously, at first glance, there is nothing to suggest that the use of Popcorn Time and especially Popcorn Time germany – i.e. in Germany – can lead to legal or other problems (‘warranties’ or guarantees). But certainly in various jurisdictions and countries that have already taken partial steps against peer-to-peer or BitTorrent platforms, there may be significant and quite costly problems.
Other countries besides Germany are of course left out of this article, but according to Wikipedia, there was already a court decision in the UK in 2015 that URLs or websites that were in connection with the Popcorn Time app or other ‘torrent-indexing’ sites had to be blocked.
Whether or in which way the Popcorn Time app and website is legal or illegal in Germany cannot be clarified in detail in this article.
Beware of the possible legal risks
However, what is definitely worth knowing for users of the web and APP services of popcorn streaming providers in Germany is the fact that they are subject to warning letters for the unauthorized (unlicensed) distribution of the works offered by the service provider through the covert use of peer-to-peer or BitTorrent software.
Of course, this does not automatically make every use of Popcorntime illegal or not automatically a target for a warning letter. Only in the specific case that a legal violation or copyright infringement can be proven, the user registered in Germany (jurisdiction Germany) will receive a warning letter. If a film is shared where the rights holder cannot or does not want to defend himself against the infringement, there will be no warning notice. Where there is no plaintiff, there is no judge. This is a well-known catchword.
But overall, the number of warnings in Germany for file-sharing and the use of BitTorrent programs is still alarmingly high, even today. As soon as the distribution of copyrighted works via peer-to-peer or torrent platforms is registered, rights holders or their law firms can acquire the lists of registered events and the corresponding IP addresses.
From this point on, the warning industry in Germany begins to work systematically. The economic risks are initially on the side of the rights owners / authors until the corresponding connection owners are identified. The long lists of Internet connections must first be ‘personified’ with the help of the competent local courts. For each IP address, the owner of the connection is determined in a data protection-compliant and legal manner. Afterwards it is systematically determined who of the determined connection owners can be warned. For legal reasons, many of them are not warned or contacted to. There has been a significant change in the law with regard to “Stoehrerhaftung” (Breach of Duty of Care).
The domestic WLAN
An important criterion in the selection of connection owners worthy of warning is the question of whether the WLAN connection is publicly or privately registered. This question is relatively easy to answer right away. If the corresponding connection owner is McDonalds Germany, BMW or Straubing State Library, a singular infringer or proprietor can hardly be distinguished amongst hunderets of public users, compared to the average household of five members that have access to the same wifi router.
The public WLAN
In the context of digitization, there are always attempts and proposals on how to expand the public WLAN in Germany. This is not quite so easy in Germany due to data protection and personal rights. Despite the current high level of political and legal resistance, there will be new positive developments in this regard in the future. These could in turn be problematic for the warning notice industry or for the rightful owners of the illegally distributed works.
The summary of the Popcorn Time warning notice
In conclusion, it should be noted that an increased degree of caution is required when using Popcorn Time. Even if the platform itself is not illegal per se, the legal basis for users of the platform resembles that of a holey Swiss cheese. Even if users are not immediately aware of it, the owners’ copyrights are economically infringed or damaged when protected works are freely distributed. The author’s or creator’s actual intention is being prevented by his work being freely published on the market without remuneration.
How much is the compensation for effort worth in this case? Is a warning justified for this ‘theft’? And what level of damages is appropriate for the infringement?
The only way to clarify this is in the form of a warning letter. This is the legal notice to register a legal violation! Everything else whether content wise, legally or contractually is negotiable. Just like everything in the life!
If you have any questions or need help with a warning notice regarding Popcorn Time, it is best to contact our team of experts at www.abmahnungshilfe.de.
Get in touch
You can decide to talk to a settlement expert in order to negotiate a settlement offer from the law firm which sent you the infringement letter. This will be sent to you without any obligation to accept and costs before accepting. All settlement experts have year long experience in this field and have settled hundreds or thousands of cases.
If you require legal advice, consulting or representation, you can decide to submit your case to an experienced lawyer. The lawyers to which your case will be submitted are all experienced and specialised in the infringement regulation.
For questions regarding your handling case please contact us directly via: firstname.lastname@example.org