TweakBox, a popular third-party ‘app store’ for iOS devices, has removed several movie streaming apps from its platform. The developers haven’t shared any further details, but the decision comes right after the makers of the film “Hellboy” targeted TweakBox in a subpoena. The removed apps include Popcorn Time, CotoMovies, and MediaBox HD.
Apple always carefully curates what type of apps people can download through the official iOS App Store.
Certain adult apps are actively banned, for example, and those that potentially infringe copyrights are not welcome either.
That doesn’t mean that you can’t get these apps on an iOS device at all. Whether Apple likes it or not, deviant developers have come up with various workarounds. Initially, those required a so-called Jailbreak, but today users have other options as well.
TweakBox is one of these alternatives. After some initial configurations, the third-party ‘app store’ allows anyone to put ‘unofficial’ apps on an iOS device. These include, tweaked versions of Whatsapp and Twitter, for example, but also emulators, a torrent client, and various movie streaming apps.
Apple and some official app developers are against this. They have taken some countermeasures in the past, which worked temporarily, but TweakBox remains functional. However, the same can’t be said about some of the most popular apps that were hosted in its sideload library.
A few days ago, TweakBox announced on Twitter that some movies apps “had to be removed,” from their site, later adding that this was not their choice.
The platform didn’t elaborate which apps were removed and who’s choice it was to delete them, but after some digging, we have a pretty clear picture of what went down.
Federal court documents reveal that the company behind the action movie “Hellboy” obtained a subpoena, indirectly targeting the app store. This court order requires hosting providers Digital Ocean and Hivelocity to share the personal details of the account holder connected to TweakBox.
The requested information includes all documents that show the name, address, telephone number, and email address, as well as payment records from the past three years.
TorrentFreak obtained copies of the letters Hellboy’s attorney sent to Digital Ocean and Hivelocity. The movie company argues that TweakBox induces copyright infringement by offering the “Popcorn Time,” “CotoMovies,” and “Mediabox HD” apps.
It’s not clear whether the hosting providers have handed over any information, but TweakBox certainly was alerted. Shortly after the subpoena was issued, the three movie piracy apps were removed from the site.
A closer inspection of TweakBox’s current video app listings shows that another potentially problematic app, MediaBox, was removed as well.
The legal pressure would explain why it was not TweakBox’s “choice” to remove the video apps, as mentioned previously in its (now removed) tweet. TorrentFreak reached out to the platform for further comments, but at the time of writing, we have yet to hear back.
Although TweakBox managed to bypass Apple’s restrictions for a long time, these recent actions show that a relatively basic DMCA subpoena can be quite effective for copyright holders.
Needless to say, many of the platform’s users are not happy. Soon after the announcement on Twitter, there was a stream of replies from people who mourned the ‘loss,’ with some demanding an immediate reinstatement.
And since TweakBox previously confessed to being a Popcorn Time ‘aficionado’ as well, the people behind the platform may not be too happy either.
While the apps may be gone from the TweakBox site, they have not been wiped from the Internet completely. As always, there are still other sources where the same can be found.
Many thanks to TorrentFreak for the breaking news.