popcorn tv

Popcorn Time Reemerges During Streaming Surge

Last edited: April 15, 2020
Reading time: 3 minutes, 26 seconds

The app Popcorn Time, also known as the Netflix of piracy, has returned after disappearing for a couple of years. The move seems logical in a time when people are asked to stay at home and are looking for something to watch. While obviously illegal, Popcorn Time does offer a lot of content. But since the platform has stolen everything it streams, you can imagine it has had some issues in the past.

Initial Release

Popcorn Time was first released back in 2014. The app became popular very quickly, because it’s very easy to use. Its interface was far better than any other piracy websites, where you need to download links yourself. Popcorn Time removed the downloading process. It still relies on the same BitTorrent technology as regular torrenting, but allows people to stream movies and tv-shows from the app.

Behind the Stylish Interface

But the concept behind this streaming service is illegal in most parts of the world. To get all the content, Popcorn Time taps into torrent networks. Whenever you click play on a video you are downloading pirated content and sharing it with others.

The fact that it looks a bit like Netflix, and is just as easy to use, makes it feel legit. It takes away everything that could be complicated about torrenting.

Its popularity did also mean that it was targeted by the movie industry from the beginning. The designers of the app said back in 2014 that they didn’t expect any legal issues for Popcorn Time, since it “doesn’t host any content or make any money”. All they are doing is repackaging existing content. It was seen by them as “an experiment to learn and share”. But only two weeks after uploading the first beta version it was taken down because of legal threats. This is when various forks of the platform start emerging.

The app launches on Android in the spring of 2014. Of course, it is immediately removed from the app store. The same happens when the app arrives on iOS later that year.

In the spring of 2015 the first countries start to block sites which host the Popcorn Time app. It started with Hollywood studios winning a legal injunction in the UK, followed by Israel, Italy, and Denmark.

Of course, banning a website in a certain country doesn’t mean that you really cannot access it anymore. A lot of people use a VPN to re-route their traffic through servers in other countries. This  also works to watch Popcorn Time and for this reason they didn’t lose all of their users.

New Leadership

Three of the original developers of the platform left the project in October of 2015. There was a disagreement over an inclusion of a VPN in the app. This could make them a target for lawsuits, so the people that were against it decided to leave.

After this break some new forms of the app have been reappearing, and they kept being shut down between 2014 and now. Although the open source app has largely been offline over the past few years.

Back to Life

Now that people are at home and are trying to find a way to spend their time, Popcorn Time has made its move and reappeared. This time they seem to have decided to integrate a VPN service. This way they want to make it easy for anyone to use their service. However, as of yet, not much is known about the security and privacy of the VPN. This can be potentially dangerous because we don’t know what they might do with your information. The release also appears to include several bugs. We wouldn’t recommend using Popcorn Time at this moment. First we need more information about their VPN and what they do to protect your privacy. If you’re interested in using a VPN we can recommend some services that we have tested extensively.

Of course there are many other streaming options out there, such as Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and Amazon prime. With a VPN you can make the most out of these services and stream at your heart’s content.

Cybersecurity analyst
David is a cyber security analyst and one of the founders of VPNoverview.com. Interested in the "digital identity" phenomenon, with special attention to the right to privacy and protection of personal data.

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