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Man Handed Conditional Prison Sentence for Spreading Information About Popcorn Time Service (torrentfreak.com) 120

A man from Denmark has been handed a six-month conditional prison sentence for spreading information about Popcorn Time, an authorized on-demand movies and TV shows streaming service, news outlet TorrentFreak reports. From the report: In what is being described as a first for Europe, the man was convicted after telling people how to download, install and use the movie streaming service. He was also ordered to forfeit $83,300 in ad revenue and complete 120 hours community service.
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Man Handed Conditional Prison Sentence for Spreading Information About Popcorn Time Service

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  • What a load! You don't make $83,300 in ad revenue from just "spreading information about [banned service]." Sounds like maybe there would be other English words that would more accurately describe what he's accused of.

    • by tattood ( 855883 ) on Friday February 09, 2018 @05:01PM (#56097159)
      From TFA:

      In August 2015, police in Denmark announced they had arrested a man in his thirties said to be the operator of a Popcorn Time-focused website. Popcorntime.dk was subsequently shut down and its domain placed under the control of the state prosecutor.

      ...

      PopcornTime.dk was an information resource, offering news on Popcorn Time-related developments, guides, plus tips on how to use the software while staying anonymous.

    • by h4x0t ( 1245872 ) on Friday February 09, 2018 @05:01PM (#56097163) Homepage
      Article says he ran a website that hosted no software. Just news about and information on how to use [banned service]. He got ad rev from the site. Didn't even link directly software, just to places that link to it.
    • Someone who runs a website actively promoting illegal activities needs to be squeaky clean to get away with it. If you are making money off it, it's going to look bad. I don't know the Danish laws but in the US there's only so much you can hide behind on the first amendment which protects free speech not commerical speech.

      • by dryeo ( 100693 )

        Did the Constitution get amended? The 1st seems pretty simple.

      • by nasch ( 598556 )

        the first amendment which protects free speech not commerical speech.

        The first definitely protects commercial speech, just not as strongly as some other kinds.

    • NOPE! Seriously. he ran a site that showed how to use the banned service.

      They put him in prison, and took every penny he ever made from the site.

      • They put him in prison

        Where is that in the article? I believe that "conditional" prison sentence in this context is like a suspended sentence: he doesn't go to prison unless he commits a new crime or fails to meet the requirements of his sentence (community service, restitution).

        • You've been sentenced to death for spitting out this bubblegum.

          As long as you spend the next five years scraping bubblegum off the bottom of desks, tables and park benches in the city And don't get into any other trouble And pay this gigantic fine, We'll be nice and not kill you.

          That's totally not a death sentence! all you have to do is cowtow hard enough.

    • by msauve ( 701917 )
      "spreading information about [banned service]."

      So, when the summary says

      Popcorn Time, an authorized on-demand movies and TV shows streaming service

      ...it really means "unauthorized?"

      • by Kjella ( 173770 )

        So, when the summary says [an authorized on-demand movies and TV shows streaming service] it really means "unauthorized?"

        Well probably not 100% illegal just as you could find Linux CDs on The Pirate Bay. I guess he's trying to hide between a very thin veil that says he only instructed people how to use the site, he didn't explicitly tell them to pirate anything. That generally doesn't work, if you're the mob's accountant you're still part of the mob. This guy must have basically been their marketing department, this is not your random peep telling a buddy where to find it. It's large scale commercial gain.

  • by bobbied ( 2522392 ) on Friday February 09, 2018 @04:53PM (#56097133)

    That's why you got criminal charges and a sentence... If you are going to do this and hope to get away with it, at least don't profit from it... You make yourself a huge target when you make a profit doing this kind of thing so you will be first on the list.

    This guy made how much from ad revenue? $83K

    • by Roger W Moore ( 538166 ) on Friday February 09, 2018 @05:21PM (#56097257) Journal
      Currently, the summary reads:

      A man from Denmark has been handed a six-month conditional prison sentence for spreading information about Popcorn Time, an authorized on-demand movies and TV shows streaming service.

      So either the summary is wrong and the site was illegal (which is what I suspect) or someone needs to explain why making money pointing people to a legal streaming site is illegal.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        Contributory copyright infringement for commercial gain. Profit from a web site designed specifically to instruct people how to infringe copyright and you will likely be held partially liable for their actions.

        It's a little like the person instructing the gang how to pull off a heist. Even if they don't participate in the heist they are still criminally liable.

        • Contributory copyright infringement for commercial gain.

          That only applies if there is copyright infringement. If you point people to, and I quote the summary, "an authorized site" where is the copyright infringement? If the site is authorized there is no copyright infringement involved. For example, if I set up a website to point people to Netflix I would not expect that to be illegal even if I made money out of it.

          • and I quote the summary

            Why on earth would you do that? You have the whole internet at your fingertips, and you pick the slashdot summary as your prime source of information??

          • If you point people to, and I quote the summary, "an authorized site" where is the copyright infringement?

            You need to expect a certain degree of dishonesty. Authorized site to do what? Popcorn seems according to what I read to be software that is intended to be used for copyright infringement. You can be authorized by say the authors of popcorn to link to their site. At the same time you are not authorized by the copyright owners of gazillions of different works to help with copyright infringement of their works.

    • If you are going to do this and hope to get away with it, at least don't profit from it.

      The other way to get away with it is to incorporate, and make so much money that you can tie up the courts for years with legal maneuvering while you launder the money. This is what The SCO Group did to steal Novell's money and property.

  • Forfeited $83000 in revenue?

    Methinks he wasn't just "telling them about the service".

    IMO from an American law point of view, it wouldn't seem that he did anything precisely illegal, merely enabled other people to do things which might include illegality. It'd be like hosting a site on lockpicking.

    • IIRC, Napster was brought down with a similar argument, though I think that was in civil court.

    • There's loads of sites on lockpicking for both professionals and locksport practitioners. Generally, the lock-picking tools aren't illegal by themselves, but you might need to explain yourself if you're acting suspiciously (most burglars wouldn't have the relevant skills to pick a lock and instead would just break their way in instead).

      Car door lock picking tools are more suspicious as locksport doesn't usually include car doors, so you'd better have a good reason for carrying them.
  • Authorized to do what by who? It's a torrent site.

  • by sgage ( 109086 ) on Friday February 09, 2018 @05:16PM (#56097235)

    I read the article, and as near as I can figure, he was busted for posting instructions on how to download, install, and use software for pirating content from PopcornTime.

    From the /. excerpt, it sounds like all he was doing was helping people to legally use the service. Highly misleading.

    And what a crappy headline... I have pretty low expectations for accuracy in /. postings, but this is one of the more egregious cases of crap editing, or something. Unless it was intentionally misleading.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    What's next? If you mention something illegal in conversation, you can be reported, arrested, tried, convicted, and sent to prison?

    "Thought crime"

    • Does that mean msmash is due for indictment for posting this story? How many people never heard of "Popcorn Time" before this article, and now have the seed planted for illegal activity?

      Conspiracy charges, here we come!

      • Wow, I've just found popcorntime.sh ! Never heard of it before. Jailtime for msmash, she (he?) led me on.

    • What's next? If you mention something illegal in conversation, you can be reported, arrested, tried, convicted, and sent to prison?

      This is the comment of a person that's run out of real problems to worry them and are now inventing fantastical ones to fulfill some deep seated need to be threatened. They took away the money he made by selling access to IP he didn't own (and yes, if he collected ad revenue, that's selling it). How terrible.

      Regardless of how you feel about movie piracy, actually selling someone else's IP takes it to a new level.

    • If the mob pays you $83,000 to run messages about planned robberies and murders between people, then yes you will be arrested for your mere mentions of the crimes.

  • by Mister Liberty ( 769145 ) on Friday February 09, 2018 @05:41PM (#56097371)
    .. in the state of Denmark.
  • If PopcornTime is an authorized streaming service, then he is simply reviewing a service. So in Denmark you can't write reviews about software that streams movies?

    • by sgage ( 109086 )

      You evidently didn't read the article. Basically, his website was a guide to illegally pirating PopcornTime content, complete with how-to's, links to pirating software, and so forth.

      Whether that should be illegal or not is another question, but his activities were not as innocent as writing reviews of streaming software.

      • Oh... so his "crime" was reported the existing flaws in the Popcorn Time content protection mechanism? Wouldn't giving him a reward and then fixing the defects make more sense?
      • by guruevi ( 827432 )

        I read the summary, which said PopcornTime is an "authorized" service. Being authorized means per definition it is not illegal and calling it a service means someone else is running/providing the service and you're paying ($0 or more) to consume it. If it's a service, you can presume to be paying for the licensing.

  • Isn't Denmark one of the go-to nations that American liberals use as a shining example of socialist government done right?

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      The "liberals" mostly hold up a failed nations like Venezuela, Cuba, China as their Communist vision for the USA.
      Denmark still has a working economy and liberals are pushing for a more Soviet Socialist government.
      The SJW liberals would like the thought crime part. Spreading information as a crime is something a SJW would covert for their go-to nations.
      • Hi troll. We see you and aren't falling for it.

    • by Teun ( 17872 )
      There's very little Socialist about the last several Danish governments, they are more and more populist, you know, afraid of others.

      But Denmark does have great social services, among the best in the world.
      As an example their health services are ranked 2rd. in Europe.
      https://healthpowerhouse.com/p... [healthpowerhouse.com]

      From personal experience I would say their legal system is rather sparse, for example they have 'just' a parliament but no senate or similar.
      • Denmark is a great place, but yeah, they do have that 75% tax rate (which the citizens don't seem to mind too much.)
        • Re:Socialist Utopia (Score:4, Informative)

          by Kiwikwi ( 2734467 ) on Friday February 09, 2018 @10:28PM (#56098695)

          Should we mind that entirely made up tax rate?

          The Danish income tax is just around the EU average. E.g. in 2013, the average single Dane paid an effective income tax of 38%, compared to 31% in the US, 49% in Germany or 56% in Belgium. (Source: OECD [keepeek.com])

          (Many people in the above mentioned countries will react with disbelief when they see these numbers, but then, it really shouldn't surprise anyone that OECD understands the tax systems of the respective countries better than most citizens.)

          Incidentally, that Belgian average tax rate of 56% is the same as the Danish marginal (and thus also maximum) rate.

          Maybe you're thinking of the OECD "tax burden" (total tax revenue, including VAT and fees, as a percentage of GDP), which is sometimes brought up by politicians campaigning on tax cuts? But even that is only 46% [oecd.org], and while it is indeed (barely) the highest in OECD, it's also a largely meaningless number, as revenue-neutral changes to the tax system can have significant impact on it. (E.g. in Denmark, people pay taxes on welfare checks. If instead we did like most countries and just paid out equivalent tax-free – but smaller – checks, the OECD tax burden would drop an estimated 4% points, and six OECD countries would suddenly be ahead of us.)

          • by Teun ( 17872 )
            I agree the 75% is wrong.
            But you forgot to add 22-25% of kommuneskat (Local tax) to the 38% income tax...
            Denmark also has the highest VAT allowed by the EU, 25% on anything you buy.
            And please don't forget the tax on cars that is up to 198%.

            I asked the Danish skat (tax man) what I would have to pay would I decide to take my (Dutch) pension in Denmark, a nice round 50%!
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Streisand Effect... having the man arrested, imprisoned etc is doing MORE to spread information about Popcorn Time than the guy they are imprisoning. Go figure. I wonder if the prosecutors get the irony here... /me goes to look up Popcorn Time

  • an authorized on-demand movies and TV shows streaming service

    Authorized by whom? Or do you mean unauthorized? We have to ask these questions, given Slashdot's lack of competent editing.

  • Many modern book, TV series, movies, and video games tell people how to commit murder, i.e. "Point gun, pull trigger!" Can they be held responsible for the results of anyone following those instructions?
    • Many modern book, TV series, movies, and video games tell people how to commit murder, i.e. "Point gun, pull trigger!"

      Historically, that is why the puritans c1600 were opposed to theatres, even ones putting on "serious" plays, like Shakespeare's. Bernard Cornwell describes the situation well in his book "Fools and Mortals".

  • This is a decision from a court of first instance. It will probably be overturned in apellate court.

The unfacts, did we have them, are too imprecisely few to warrant our certitude.

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