Popcorn Time: 'Netflix for piracy' back up and running after going open-source

Service has been translated into 32 different languages
  • @christophhooton

Popcorn Time's closure lasted just two days, with the site allowing users to watch movies free online being picked up by other developers.

Described as a "nightmare scenario" for the film industry, the site was shut down by its creators, only for the software to be made open-source on a popular code-sharing website.

This paved the way for anyone and everyone to host the software, in a sort of digital game of whack-a-mole that will make it very difficult to shut down for good.

Powered by BitTorrent files, the service has now been translated into 32 different languages.

Popcorn Time has proven a popular avenue of piracy thanks to its simplicity, making it easier for less tech savvy people to use than traditional torrent websites.

"The next stage of piracy, and one rights holders need to be really worried about, is when the pirates start behaving like the rest of the internet and start making great user experiences," Mark Mulligan, an analyst and co-founder of Midia Consulting, told the BBC.

Popcorn Time's rebirth poses a threat to services like Netflix and Hulu, which charge a monthly subscription to watch movies legally.

The software's creators, who have remained anonymous but claim to be based in Buenos Aires, have issued a warning to anyone who installs Popcorn Time, though it is unlikely to deter users.

"Popcorn Time doesn't host any copyrighted content, the app is based in a decentralised model, working with services that already exist and are used daily by millions of people worldwide," the message reads.

"We aren't making any money or accepting donations with the project at the time, as we keep to our original intentions of just focusing Popcorn Time on a technology experiment to bring a simpler way to experience movies in a digital environment."

The Federation Against Copyright Theft (Fact) claimed that their technology boundary-pushing iss tantamount to "testing out the law", commenting: "What we would say is that the law is quite clearly defined as to what is copyright infringement and what isn't."