Back in the glorious days of Internet piracy, programs like Napster and LimeWire reigned supreme. But now, there’s a new blatantly illegal player in town: Popcorn Time.
According to Digital Trends, Popcorn Time, which streams movies using Torrents, first emerged on the Internet about a month ago, but was recently shot into fame by TorrentFreak. Since, the program has become all the rage despite still being in its beta version.
From someone who has a general understanding of technology (read: slight idiot, but not full-fledged), Popcorn Time clearly violates copyright laws. The program acknowledges it too, with a warning message: “Downloading copyright material may be illegal in your country. Use at your own risk.”
However, the issue with Popcorn Time is that it seems innocent, and is just about as easy as choosing a film on Netflix. More impressive is the selection on the program, which contains titles still in theaters like “American Hustle” and “The Wolf of Wall Street.”
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This not-so-tech-savvy editor tested it out and was browsing through a myriad of movies and then streaming “12 Years A Slave” on my work computer in under four minutes. No buffering like the old days of dial-up. Best of all, the quality is nearly HD-like to my novice eye and has an easy-to-use interface, similar to HBO Go or Netflix, with category selections and multiple language options.
For those who want a full explanation of the technology behind it, head to TorrentFreak where the developer explained it in your vernacular. But, in plain English, Popcorn Time is like a built-in BitTorrent, a peer-to-peer sharing system that can send and receive multiple files from and to multiple systems. Except, this program reduces the troubles associated with peer-to-peer, which takes a buff to really master, and basically reduces the hassle entirely. The end result? Movie streaming.
Sounds too good to be true? Well, as most things are, it is.
Digital Trends explained that while using Torrents is not illegal, distributing and downloading copyrighted material, like a movie still in theaters, is. While the act of using Popcorn Time seems as shameless as making a selection from your Instant Queue on Netflix and streaming, you’re secretly downloading files the entire time in the depths of your computer. Via Digital Trends:
“According to Popcorn Time’s FAQ, you do indeed seed (upload) parts of the movie while you watch. Popcorn Time does state that ‘your movies will stay buried in a secret folder somewhere in your drive until you restart your computer. Then it will be gone for good.’ This does seem like a pretty clever cover-your-tracks feature, but there will still be a significant breadcrumb trail left behind each time you watch a movie. Even though all the high-tech stuff is happening behind the scenes, you’re still torrenting.”
However, the Popcorn Time creator does not believe there will be any legal issues with the program, which is not being co-developed by 20 others.
“We don’t expect legal issues,” Popcorn Time developer “Sebastian” told TorrentFreak. “We don’t host anything, and none of the developers makes any money. There are no ads, no premium accounts, and no subscription fees or anything like that. It’s an experiment to learn and share.”
So, in short, enjoy Popcorn Time for now, until it’s over.
“The lawyers will come eventually because Popcorn Time is just that good,” Tech Crunch wrote.