Popcorn Time
A March 2014 screenshot of the movies, many still in theaters, available on the torrent-streaming site Popcorn Time. Wikicommons

Popcorn Time is on the run. Time4Popcorn.eu, one of the most popular iterations of the “Netflix for pirates” movie site, has had its URL suspended by European regulators Thursday, effectively turning off the lights for a site that had attracted millions of users in just a few months.

The European ID Registry knocked Time4Popcorn.eu offline Thursday due to suspicion that the page was registered with inaccurate administrator contact details, according to the piracy news site TorrentFreak. The site's developers, rather than provide accurate contact information, simply relocated to Time4Popcorn.com, but warned that the movie-watching experience won't be quite the same until administrators are able to get the system up and running again.

“At the moment the desktop and iPhone versions aren't working but in a few hours we'll update the desktop version to the new domain and it should update automatically for most and will work,” they told TorrentFreak. “If for some reason some users didn't get the automatic update, they'll be able to re-download the app from Time4Popcorn.com....This is a small kick to the balls at the moment, but we'll come out of this much stronger and way better.”

The speed of the site transfer and the quality of the replacement site bring up the same question users have been asking for some time now: Is Popcorn Time safe? Unlike traditionally-sketchy piracy sites like the Pirate Bay and Demonoid, Popcorn Time has a bight, clean display interface rivaling Netflix, the biggest difference being that Popcorn Time features movies that have barely entered theaters.

Downloading Popcorn Time's beta verison isn't against the law (it's hardly recommended), though “Popcorn Time,” like Kleenex's effect on the tissue industry, has become Internet shorthand for illegally streaming Hollywood movies. What Popcorn Time software does do is simplify and enable the normally tricky process of copyright infringement by making it possible for users to stream Hollywood movies while they upload them for other users. The problems begin when viewers, confused either by the Netflix-like screen or the legal murkiness, don't realize they're violating copyright.