Popcorn Time was a simple idea: give people an app that looked like Netflix but streamed BitTorrent files of pirated movies. While it was obviously illegal and quickly shut down, a cloned version popped up to replace it... then another, and another, despite frequent crackdowns, national bans, and multiple lawsuits.
Feb 26, 2016
Popcorn Time's best-known app comes back to life
Popcorntime.io, probably the most popular iteration of slippery movie piracy app Popcorn Time, is back — sort of. Earlier this week, part of the team apparently behind popcorntime.io announced a comeback, four months after being shut down and hit with a lawsuit from the MPAA. Like its predecessor, the new service offers sleek streaming-video apps that play a large selection of pirated movies, all distributed via Bittorrent. But it's being launched at the new popcorntime.sh domain with a more visible awareness of the legal risks its developers are taking.Read Article >
As noted by Torrent Freak, signs of the new Popcorn Time started popping up earlier this month, with strong evidence that it was created by team members from popcorntime.io. A blog post titled "We Are Officially Back" appears to have confirmed that news. "After the 'MPAA incident,' we're a little diminished, and we've chosen a new direction," the post reads. That new direction is moving away from "active development" of Popcorn Time. The apps will now rely on Butter, a version of the Popcorn Time streaming system that doesn't offer pirated material, for its core infrastructure. Butter was developed by members of popcornteam.io, and it doesn't present the same legal problems, letting developers work on the technology without the threat of more lawsuits.
Feb 8, 2016
The Pirate Bay now lets you stream torrents from your browser
The best-known torrent site in the world now streams pirated content too. The Pirate Bay has added support for Torrents Time, a plugin that lets users stream torrents directly inside their browser. There's no need to download the torrent itself, or a BitTorrent client, or even the actual content — then lets the whole process run inside Firefox, Internet Explorer, or Chrome, on either Windows or OS X. The system is currently in beta, and has all the usual problems of pirated torrents (namely bad image quality and the need to wait for peers to seed the content), but it's still an extremely simple system.Read Article >
Torrents Time first launched at the beginning of this month, initially with support from popcorntime-online.io, a new web-based incarnation of Popcorn Time unrelated to prior forks, including the popular .io version. The Torrents Time plugin isn't just built for The Pirate Bay though — any torrenting site can add support.
Oct 26, 2015
The most popular Popcorn Time fork has been shut down
Is Popcorn Time's wild run coming to an end? One of the two biggest versions of the illegal streaming service, popcorntime.io, was reportedly shut down for good last week after a dispute between developers. The website itself is unavailable, the app no longer works, and an official Twitter account announced last Friday (in what it described as "probably" its last message) that users should instead download Butter, a legal version of the app.Read Article >
"In the last few days someone has been tempering [sic] with our infrastructure, mainly our DNS service, and we can’t convince our provider Gandi.net that we are us and want to stay online," reads a message on the cached version of popcorntime.io. Since then, a developer for the app identified as Wally has told Torrent Freak that they have shut down the site's servers completely. "There is nothing I can do anymore," said Wally. "I deleted any logs that can be harmful for any other dev."
Oct 23, 2015
A brief history of Popcorn Time, the piracy service everyone’s watching
Most of us think of Netflix when we think of streaming movies and TV shows, but over the past year and a half, a competitor has emerged: one that's almost as easy to use, doesn't charge a thing, and — you guessed it — steals everything it streams. That new service is called Popcorn Time, and it's become known as the "Netflix for pirates."Read Article >
Popcorn Time can be installed on Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android, and it basically looks like an iTunes library that's been filled with every film imaginable (including those that haven't been released yet). You just choose what you want to watch, and click play — it's pretty much that simple.
Oct 23, 2015
Piracy service Popcorn Time now has a legal alternative called Butter
One of the many versions of popular piracy service Popcorn Time has now spawned what its creators promise will be a totally legal version of the technology. Butter, announced today, is a version of Popcorn Time "stripped down of the parts that made people wary" — namely, the parts that let users stream illegally downloaded BitTorrent films in a Netflix-style interface. Effectively, it's a copy of the service's basic infrastructure, separated from its sketchier counterpart to make developers more comfortable experimenting with it.Read Article >
Popcorn Time isn't a service as much as an idea: a simple tool that hides the messy aspects of finding and downloading files using the BitTorrent protocol. Various developers have been cloning and forking it since it first launched in early 2014, dodging legal shutdowns and expanding into new territory like browser-based streaming. Butter's creators note that their open source code is an easy starting point to create new clones, and while they're still also keeping a version of Popcorn Time online, this gives the service a certain amount of cover.
Oct 21, 2015
Popcorn Time for the web returns with a new developer
A web version of the piracy app Popcorn Time has been revived for the second time in about 24 hours. The site, called Browser Popcorn, has now moved over to yet another new domain, following the shutdown of its original two domains in the wake of legal pressure.Read Article >
Browser Popcorn is also being taken over by a new developer. The site's creator, a 15-year-old named Milan Kragujevic, tells The Verge in an email that he's handed Browser Popcorn over to a "close friend for a time being until the dust settles, maybe permanently." Kragujevic says that he'll remain involved with the site's development, but he is no longer the owner or "the one to fall when things become dire." Notably, the new developer is not a teen. "In fact, he is 35 years old," Kragujevic writes, "a seasoned programmer you might say."
Popcorn Time for the web shuts down
A version of Popcorn Time built for the web is shutting down after just a couple of days online. Browser Popcorn launched this weekend as a way to stream pirated movies and TV shows from the web, and it began receiving quite a bit of attention last night. Since then, the site's owner, who has identified himself as a 15-year-old named Milan Kragujevic, says he's received a cease and desist order from the MPAA; the MPAA is also said to have gone after his domain registrar and hosting provider, leading Kragujevic to switch the site from one domain to another earlier today. Despite Kragujevic's quick reaction to keep the service online as recently as this morning, he's now decided to call it quits and shut down the piracy site.Read Article >
"It was a nice ride, but it's time to move on," Kragujevic writes. "I will be distancing myself from further development of Browser Popcorn." Kragujevic writes that Browser Popcorn was never meant to be "a battle for piracy," but rather "an experiment with the streaming technology." That's not exactly aligned with Kragujevic's earlier statements, but 24 hours of legal notices are the kind of thing that might change your mind. Kragujevic tells Motherboard that he's planning to replace Browser Popcorn with a "legal movie recommendation service." He might also open source the code behind Browser Popcorn, so it's possible that another developer will revive it in the future.
Popcorn Time for the web moves domain after apparent MPAA shutdown
Browser Popcorn is now being hosted at browserpopcorn.gq. Kragujevic tells The Verge that he moved it there after the MPAA contacted the company hosting his original site. "Basically, MPAA sent me a [cease and desist] letter and contacted my hosting provider and domain registrar and ordered them to take down the infringing content," he writes in an email. Kragujevic previously said that he was prepared for legal action and would try to keep the website alive. "I live in a country where copyright law is almost nonexistent, and simply I don't care," he wrote on Product Hunt a few days ago. "I will keep moving the website, changing domains and providers." Clearly, he's following through.Read Article >
Though Browser Popcorn has managed to stay alive for now, TorrentFreak suggests that it may still have problems to deal with. Kragujevic is said to have set Browser Popcorn up in a way that has its hosting servers doing all of the torrenting, therefore demanding a huge amount of bandwidth; typically, the person streaming through Popcorn Time would do all of the uploading and downloading on their own network. The initial site reportedly only had the capacity to handle 1,200 people, and given the associated costs, continued maintenance will likely be tough. That seems to be part of why browser-based versions of Popcorn Time keep failing; Popcorn Time as a whole, however, has managed to survive thanks to its open-source development.
Oct 19, 2015
Popcorn Time for your browser makes illegal movie streaming even easier
The browser version was created by 15-year-old Serbian programmer Milan Kragujevic, who appears to have cloned the original Popcorn Time project first created last year before it was shut down due to legal concerns. Replicating, or so-called forking, the initial app has become a seemingly never-ending game of cat-and-mouse between piracy advocates and the movies studios and law enforcement bodies trying to crack down on them. Numerous groups and individual developers have been able to continue the Popcorn Time initiative in various capacities, including a new music streaming service similar to Spotify called Aurous. Popcorn Time and its different iterations are now so popular that Netflix considers it a viable threat to its business.Read Article >
The most successful multi-platform clone is called Popcorn.io, which in August 2015 received the endorsement of the original service's creators. However, the team behind that particular fork is embroiled in a leadership shakeup, with key members departing amid ongoing rumors of an impending Hollywood lawsuit, according to a report from TorrentFreak today.
Sep 10, 2015
Popcorn Time’s creator wanted to make a streaming service for his mom
The biggest advantage of illegal streaming service Popcorn Time is arguably that it's easy to use. The app — which is so influential that Netflix considers it a serious competitor — employs the same BitTorrent protocols that have been used to pirate movies and TV shows for years, but wraps them in a sleek user interface, minimizing confusion and lending the enterprise an air of legitimacy. It's perhaps no surprise, then, that Popcorn Time's creator — an Argentinian designer and programmer named Federico Abad — built the software with his mother in mind.Read Article >
In a fantastic interview with Abad by Norwegian paper Dagens Naeringsliv (Google Translate version here), the 29-year-old says he was frustrated by having to wait as long as six months to see new movies, and that the usual pirating experience was too messy — full of pop-ups and porn ads. Instead, he used his mother as a case study, designing a program that she would find easy to use. His guiding principle? Anyone should be able to start watching the movie they want in just two clicks.
Sep 1, 2015
A studio is suing Popcorn Time users for illegally downloading a Pierce Brosnan movie
Popcorn Time, the Netflix-like streaming service that delivers pirated movies to users, has battled legal difficulties since it launched, and the pile of complaints leveled against it just got a little bit bigger. Indie studio Millennium Films and its affiliate Nu Image filed a lawsuit against Popcorn Time users in Oregon today, claiming they were responsible for more than 10,000 illegal downloads of the 2015 assassin movie Survivor, which starred Pierce Brosnan and Milla Jovovich.Read Article >
A formal complaint has been filed against 16 individual Popcorn Time users in the state, who have been accused of downloading and distributing multiple copies of Survivor across the Bit Torrent network. The studios claim they are making an example of these "habitual copyright infringers" to prove a point about the effects of piracy on film. The law allows for each defendant to be fined up to $150,000, but the studio says if the copyright infringers comply with their requests immediately, they'll agree to resolve each case for the "statutory minimum in damages," which is $750.
Aug 20, 2015
Explaining how Popcorn Time works can get you arrested in Denmark
The case is particularly notable as neither of the individuals arrested were illegally hosting copyrighted material or copies of the Popcorn Time app itself. Instead, says Torrent Freak, both are accused of distributing information on how to access illegal content online. Inspector Michael Hellensberg of the Danish fraud squad told local media that the case was significant as "it shows that [sites' owners] can be revealed by the police. This has consequences and it also conveys the message that this behavior is illegal."Read Article >
The battle between Popcorn Time's supporters and law enforcement looks like it could be a long one, with the software still easily accessible online and the support infrastructure — the system of torrenting itself — impossible to take down in any conventional sense. However, unlike the often confusing world of torrenting sites, the app's popularity springs from that the fact that it's easy to use, mimicking the design language of legal services. So much so, in fact, that Netflix describes Popcorn Time as one of its "biggest competitors."
Jun 26, 2015
Popcorn Time is now more popular than popcornRead Article >
Well, it happened. Google searches for “popcorn” now routinely rank the Popcorn Time bittorrent streamer ahead of the succulent snack of superheated chemical corn consumed at movie houses since time immemorial. And in a head-to-head fight, “Popcorn Time” beats “popcorn” nearly two to one. Congratulations internet, you’ve killed Americana.
Apr 8, 2015
Piracy app Popcorn Time sneaks onto iPhones and iPads
Popcorn Time is probably the closest thing you can find to a "Netflix for pirates," and today it's becoming even more accessible by launching an app for the iPhone and iPad. Apple hasn't approved the app through the App Store, but Popcorn Time has found a way to sneak onto the two devices anyway. It's built an installer that you run on Windows (an OS X version is supposed to arrive in about two weeks), and it'll quickly load the app onto a connected phone or tablet. Notably, a device doesn't have to be jailbroken in order to install this version of Popcorn Time, which makes this app far more accessible than the one Popcorn Time has already been offering.Read Article >
Apple has long maintained control over what apps can run on its platform, and it's been able to squash apps that slip through in the past. That means it's quite possible that Popcorn Time's easy iOS installer won't be around for long — but it's also possible that it'll just find another way through in the future. It's also worth remembering that, because this app hasn't been run through Apple, you're letting an app that hasn't been checked over for security issues access to your computer and iPad. The installer can be downloaded from Popcorn Time's website.
Jan 21, 2015
Netflix says piracy service Popcorn Time is a real competitor
Netflix isn't just worried about HBO — it's worried about pirates, too. In a letter to shareholders yesterday, Netflix says that piracy is one of its "biggest competitors," and notably, it specifically points to one piracy service that's caught its attention: Popcorn Time. Popcorn Time's app is meant to make pirating a movie as easy as streaming one on Netflix. The app allows you to browse through an iTunes-like catalog of movies and TV shows by their posters, select one for more information, and then start streaming it after a short buffering period. It's so streamlined that anyone should be able to just pick it up and start watching.Read Article >
What Popcorn Time actually is is a pretty face for downloading torrents, an activity that's typically going to be illegal when you're looking for major films and TV shows. This form of piracy is far from a new phenomenon, but it makes torrenting a lot more accessible than it's traditionally been — and that gives Netflix reason to worry.
Mar 16, 2014
Popcorn Time service for pirated movies refuses to stay shut down
Last week, a movie-watching service called Popcorn Time hit the internet — it promised a Netflix-like experience for any movie you might want to watch, but used the expansive network of pirated BitTorrent movies to deliver content to users. It earned praise for its intuitive user interface, but its creators shut Popcorn Time down on Saturday, saying that the ongoing legal concerns were too much of a strain to deal with.Read Article >
However, Popcorn Time was always meant to be open source, and as such someone else has now picked up the mantle and brought the service back to life. As reported by TorrentFreak, the BitTorrent site YTS has decided to take over the Popcorn Time project and resurrect it — beta builds for Windows, OS X, and Linux are being posted to GitHub here.