In a first, Danish man is sentenced to prison for simply telling people how they can illegally download movies
In what is being described as a first for Europe, a man from Denmark has been handed a six-month conditional prison sentence for spreading information about Popcorn Time, the torrent streaming service.
In August 2015, police in Denmark announced in a statement that they had arrested a man in his thirties said to be the operator of a Popcorn Time-focused website, called Popcorntime.dk.
For the uninitiated, Popcorn Time is a free software that can be used to download torrents and watch them on the go via its in-built media player. The Danish website was subsequently shut down and its domain placed under the control of the state prosecutor.
“The Danish State Prosecutor for Serious Economic and International Crime is presently conducting a criminal investigation that involves this domain name,” a seizure notice on the site reads.
“As part of the investigation the state prosecutor has requested a Danish District Court to transfer the rights of the domain name to the state prosecutor. The District Court has complied with the request.”
Circumstance like this are not uncommon and generally arise when a site is offering copyright-infringing content or software.
But that wasn’t the case here. In fact, it wasn't even close, reports TorrentFreak.com.
PopcornTime.dk was an information resource, offering news on Popcorn Time-related developments, guides and tips on how to use the software while staying anonymous.
Basically a one stop shop to learn your way around the software for an uninterrupted torrent viewing experience.
The now shut website hosted no software, preferring to link to other sites where the application could be downloaded instead. It didn’t even host any pirated content or torrents. All it did was provide a thorough walkthrough for curious web surfers. Nevertheless, this doesn’t appear to have saved it from the Danish authorities. And now, two-and-half years later, the verdict’s in and it’s bound to raise more than a few eyebrows.
On Wednesday, a court in Odense, Denmark, handed the 39-year-old man behind PopcornTime.dk, whose identity was not revealed, a six-month conditional prison sentence for spreading information about the controversial movie streaming service.
Senior prosecutor Dorte Køhler Frandsen from SØIK (State Attorney for Special Economic and International Crime), who was behind the criminal proceedings, described the successful prosecution as a first-of-its-kind for the entire region.
“Never before has a person been convicted of helping to spread streaming services. The judgment is therefore an important step in combating illegal streaming on the Internet and will reverberate throughout Europe,” Frandsen said as reported by TorrentFreak.
According to a statement from the prosecutor, the 39-year-old earned 506,003 Danish Krone ($83,363) in advertising revenue from his website in 2015.
As if it’s not bad enough that he has to serve a conditional prison sentence, the prosecuted man must also forfeit this amount and apart from having his domain confiscated, will also be required to complete 120 hours of community service.
“The verdict is a clear signal to those who spread illegal pirate services. The film industry and others lose billions in revenue each year because criminals illegally offer films for free. It’s a loss for everyone. Also the consumer,” Frandsen added.
The convicted man now has two weeks to decide whether he will take his appeal to the Østre Landsret, one of Denmark’s two High Courts.
Whether or not the prosecuted decides to appeal against the decision, one cannot deny that the decision forms a landmark moment in not only Danish, but European law.
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