... no more or less legal than utorrent or any other bittorrent client
The court here came up with a slightly different perspective:
- - even though the claimants did not argue this, the court commented that the developers of Popcorn Time probably authorise copyright infringement (Paragraph 48)
The Popcorn Time application is a means necessarily used for users to infringe the copyright in many senses. It is the means by which they find what content they want, it is the means by which they access and collect the pieces of the content files using the BitTorrent protocol and it is the media player on which the user actually watches the protected work. Infringement of copyright is inevitable when Popcorn Time is used. That is what it is for. Moreover it is not a tool like a twin tape recorder which could in principle be used by a user for any work (infringing or not). The Popcorn Time application accesses content using its index and that index is controlled by the suppliers. Each Popcorn Time application connects to SUI websites for updates of various sorts and by that means the suppliers of the Popcorn Time application retain control over its use. Whether the suppliers could turn off a user's Popcorn Time application is not clear but in any event they determine what appears in the index.
- - the suppliers of Popcorn Time (as opposed to the code itself, since code can't (yet) commit copyright infringement) had a "common design" with the operators of the websites in question, thereby infringing copyright (Paragraph 55)
The issue I have to decide is whether the suppliers of the Popcorn Time applications are jointly liable with the operators of the host websites. In my judgment they are. The Popcorn Time application is the key means which procures and induces the user to access the host website and therefore causes the infringing communications to occur. The suppliers of Popcorn Time plainly know and intend that to be the case. They provide the software and provide the information to keep the indexes up to date. I find that the suppliers of Popcorn Time have a common design with the operators of the host websites to secure the communication to the public of the claimants' protected works, thereby infringing copyright.