As reported by Torrent Freak, the producers of The Cobbler have found a new angle on their nationwide copyright infringement litigation campaign, targeting 11 alleged users of the film-streaming site known as Popcorn Time in a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in Oregon.
As Troll Defense previously noted, The Cobbler is comedy film starring Adam Sandler that was widely released earlier this year, with generally unfavorable reviews and uncertain box office revenues.
Popcorn Time is a site with a legitimate look-and-feel that invites its users to download its software and very easily “stream movies and TV shows.” The site even quips: “Just take care of the popcorn and leave the rest to us.”
In fact, the Popcorn Time landing page warns “[d]ownloading copyrighted material may be illegal in your country. Use at your own risk.” The new complaint, filed by Cobbler Nevada, LLC, provides further detail regarding the Popcorn Time site disclaimers:
When the Popcorn Time software is installed, users are required to accept Terms of Service and acknowledge: “ALL MOVIES . . . ARE STREAMED USING THE P2P BIT TORRENT PROTOCOL. . . . BY WATCHING A MOVIE WITH THIS APPLICATION YOU MIGHT BE COMMITTING COPYRIGHT VIOLATIONS…”
After gaining in popularity since it launched in early 2014, Popcorn Time and its supporters have been the subject of law enforcement and content industry enforcement in Israel, the Netherlands and other nations. This week, two “fan page” publishers were arrested by police in Denmark while their site domains were ordered to be confiscated, according to Torrent Freak.
Owing to Popcorn Time’s underlying use of BitTorrent technology, many of the technical allegations of the lawsuit are similar to those in other Cobbler lawsuits filed by the same attorney, Carl D. Crowell of Salem, Oregon. However, in the new complaint Crowell goes so far as to compare the possession of Popcorn Time to that of “a burglary tool or theft device” that is criminalized by Oregon law. The 11 Doe parties are listed in an exhibit to the complaint (shown here) by IP address and “geo-located” city.
What may be most interesting about this suit is whether its theory will serve as an avenue for BitTorrent plaintiffs in Oregon to return to the filing of multi-Doe copyright actions using permissive joinder. In May 2013, as Troll Defense then reported, Judge Ann Aiken entered an order in several matters then pending in the District Court which found that joinder arising from the fact that a group of otherwise unrelated Does may have all shared the same infringing file or participated in the same “swarm” was insufficient. A year later, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit came to a similar conclusion. Since the May 2013 decision, essentially every BitTorrent case in Oregon has been filed against only a single Doe party. Depending on what occurs with the Popcorn Time matter, future suits may follow a different path.
Carl D. Crowell has also filed on behalf of Survivor Productions, Inc. a second Popcorn Time-related lawsuit against 16 Doe defendants in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon. As Troll Defense previously reported, the film Survivor features Milla Jovovich as a falsely accused Foreign Service Officer who works to unravel a terrorist plot against the U.S. The allegations of the Survivor complaint are virtually identical to the Cobbler suit discussed above.
More recently, Dallas Buyers Club, LLC filed a similar lawsuit against 10 Does accused of using Popcorn Time to infringe Dallas Buyers Club, the 2013 film which is the subject of hundreds of prior lawsuits filed by Dallas Buyers Club, LLC in the Oregon District Court and around the nation.
UPDATED (11/30/15): Cobbler Nevada, LLC filed two additional Popcorn Time lawsuits against 23 additional Doe parties.
Case listing, with links to complaints:
Case No: 3:15-cv-01550
Cobbler Nevada, LLC v. Anonymous Users of Popcorn Time: Does 1-11
Case No: 3:15-cv-01587
Survivor Productions, Inc. v. Anonymous Users of Popcorn Time: Does 1-16
Dallas Buyers Club, LLC v. Anonymous Users of Popcorn Time: Does 1-10
Case No: 3:15-cv-01988
Cobbler Nevada, LLC v. Users of Popcorn Time No. 1-12
Case No: 3:15-cv-01991
Cobbler Nevada, LLC v. Users of Popcorn Time No. 1-11