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Is Time4Popcorn safe?

Douglas Crawford

Douglas Crawford

June 17, 2014

As anyone who reads our posts on a regular basis will know, we are big fans of ‘Netflix for pirates’ app, Popcorn Time. After the original developers rather suddenly (and mysteriously) dropped the project, a number of other developers took the open source code, and started to develop new forks of Popcorn Time.

One particular fork caught our attention thanks to its promise that the ‘service will never be taken down.’ This is a promise that Time4Popcorn (T4P) has so far managed to keep, as well as developing additional groovy features not found in the original, such as support for watching TV shows, Chromecast support, built-in VPN (albeit using a company that keeps extensive logs), and a fully featured Android app.

popcorn time 3

However, a ferocious spat has developed between the mainstream Popcorn Time fork community and T4P, with the former claiming that Time4Popcorn is ‘dangerous’ and ‘shady’.

Some of the accusations appear, quite frankly, rather petty, such as that the T4P developers would only communicate using email (oh the horror!), while other charges are more serious.

Concern has been raised over the fact that T4P ‘uses a centralized server system which can,’ in theory at least, ‘make it vulnerable to takedowns, backdoors and other malwarious code.’ There is also a piece of code that could maybe be exploited by a Man in the Middle attack. However, the open source code for Time4Popcorn is available for inspection on GitHub, and ‘there has not been found any harmful code in Time4Popcorn.’

Even more acrimonious is the debate over whether the T4P team properly credited the devs of the original open source code (under proper use of the GPL license a copyright header should be added to every piece of code in order to properly credit the owner of that code). If the T4P devs are guilty in this regard, then the owners of the source code have every right to be annoyed.

The fact that Time4Popcorn has called its Android app ‘Popcorn Time’, and that its website looks very similar to the original Popcorn Time website, has also put people’s backs up.

Unfortunately the whole debate has become very heated, and we certainly do not want to get involved. A reddit sticky on the subject has pulled back somewhat from earlier accusations however, and recognizes that ‘Time4Popcorn isn’t dangerous at this point in time.’

Whether or not the T4P devs acted in a ’shady’ manner, we will leave to our readers…

Some Links

The debate

Popcorn Time forks

When the dust settles a bit, we’ll do a full roundup of the various versions of Popcorn Time, and try to recommend the best!

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