PayPal-based assets owned by the companies behind Popcorn Time will be frozen until further notice now that a Virginia federal judge has granted a preliminary injunction in a suit from several Hollywood companies who say their films are being pirated on the site.
In March, Millennium Funding, Voltage Holdings and other rights holders sued Wicked Technology and VPN.HT for copyright infringement, trademark counterfeiting and unfair competition. They allege a site called Popcorn Time (which has been dubbed “Netflix for pirates”) gives users unlawful access to copyrighted works including Angel Has Fallen, Automata, The Hitman’s Bodyguard, Hellboy, Hunter Killer and I Feel Pretty. They’re suing in Virginia, where a company called Voxility has data centers that host Wicked’s sites.
In April, U.S. District Judge Rossie D. Alston Jr. froze the assets of their PayPal accounts, enjoined PayPal from allowing those funds to be transferred and allowed limited discovery directed to third parties PayPal, GitHub and Cloudflare. The plaintiffs then asked for an order that would freeze the defendants’ accounts at Tennessee-based Evolve Bank & Trust.
So far, none of the defendants have responded to the suit in court.
Alston notes that courts don’t award preliminary injunctions lightly, but in this case he found the plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits of their claims and are likely to suffer irreparable harm absent the relief.
“The fact that Popcorn Time offers freely available, infringing copies of Plaintiffs’ copyrighted works suggests that the application is undermining the legitimate market in which consumers may pay to access those same works,” writes Alston. “Additionally, without a preliminary injunction, Defendants may transfer funds from PayPal to a provider beyond the Court’s jurisdictional reach, thereby continuing the ongoing infringements Plaintiffs allege.”
Alston granted the TRO as to Evolve for the same reasons. Read the full order below.