Popcorn Time is quickly learning that with more downloads comes more scrutiny now that the torrent streaming site is struggling to stay online in a number of major European countries. Six Popcorn Time-affiliated websites were taken down in the Netherlands late Monday, a move that comes as lawmakers in Belgium are pushing a law that would give authorities more impunity to block suspected piracy sites.
Unlike the Pirate Bay and KickAss Torrents -- piracy behemoths that rotate between two to three sites -- Popcorn Time is a loose network of sites or software which make it possible for users to stream torrent files of copyrighted movies. Popcorn Time, since debuting more than a year ago, has soared in popularity, though it's been trailed by copyright enforcers who have sought to curb illegal movie streaming. Now, three Netherlands-based Popcorn Time sites -- popcorntime.nl, popcorn-time.eu and popcorntimefiles.nl -- have been shuttered by the Dutch anti-piracy organization BREIN.
“Popcorn Time is an illegal service particularly popular in the Netherlands and gets a lot of media attention,” BREIN said in a roughly translated statement. “This free service competes with paid legal offers including Netflix.”
Popcorn-time.eu and popcorntime.nl, in particular, were widely known in Europe for their Netflix-like display screens.
There were about 1.3 devices containing Popcorn Time software throughout a Dutch population of 17 million or so, according to the news site MYCE.com. This outage comes weeks after Dutch law enforcement blocked three other sites, and as Belgian Popcorn Time users nervously await a similar fate.
Belgian Minister of the Digital Agenda Alexander De Croo told news outlets last week he expects that legislators in the country will soon enact laws to prohibit the downloading of Popcorn Time software.
“Everyone thinks it's normal that we act against online trade of counterfeit drugs or pornography. But the illegal distribution of music or movies is harmful and a violation of law,” he said, according to DeMorgen.be. “With this new legal framework we need to efficiently and quickly, and immediately if necessary, take action against sites that distribute illegal content or illegal goods.”