Netflix for pirates – why 100k people a day are rushing to download Popcorn Time

Ray Walsh

Ray Walsh

March 20, 2015

If you don’t already know about Popcorn Time, then you probably haven’t been spending enough time on the Best VPN news page, because we have already covered it a few times, and it is something that is definitely going to interest you if one of your main reasons for using a VPN is to stream or download movies from BitTorrent sites.

For those of you that don’t know, Popcorn Time is a movie and TV streaming app that was released about a year ago, and which is growing in strength at an incredible rate. In fact, it is estimated that is growing by about 100,000 downloads per day, and already has millions of users – no doubt because its service allows people to stream movies with as much ease as its legal counterpart Netflix.

Although the first version of Popcorn Time was removed by its domain registrar EURid, because of powerful pressure from one of the world’s top copyright holders the MPAA, it wasn’t long before anonymous coders got the (originally Argentinian) service up and running once more, and this time Popcorn Time’s anonymous spokesperson (who wants to be known simply as Pochoclin – the name of Popcorn Time’s incredibly cute mascot)  is convinced that it is here to stay – specifically because it plans to soon go over to a peer to peer architecture that will make it incredibly difficult, near impossible Pochoclin says, for the copyright police to shut it down again. Good news then for pirate movie watchers everywhere,

‘We’re at the threshold of one of the most exciting times since we started this project… Making all our data available via p2p will mean that Popcorn Time will no longer rely on domains and centralized servers but only on its user base.’

Although Popcorn Time did suffer from the slight glitch of loosing its .eu domain name – leading to a huge drop in new users in March of last year – now that it is safely up and running on its sparkly new Swedish domain, those original growth rates are right back on target, and its not hard to understand why.

Popcorn Time gives you a menu of Movies and TV Shows that is larger, and has more high quality video files, than any pay per view streaming service, in fact it makes Netflix look like what it is – very limited.

It is for this reason alone that the year-old startup has one of the most insanely high pick-up rates an internet service has ever had – it offers users a sky-high mountain of movies and TV shows, including stacks of the most recent releases (that you haven’t got a chance in hell of finding on Netflix), in effect making the pirate movie service the market leader in its category, and all that for free… drool.

So how does it work? Popcorn Time is actually just a front end, an integrated menu system that searches already existing BitTorrent sites for content, and then with one click of a button does all the work, which you used to have to do, for you… the fairly complex task of using BitTorrent search engines, trackers, clients, seeds, decompression, playback, and storage all happens with the click of a single button, truly making Popcorn Time a revolution in movie Piracy, and turning piracy in to an action that is as easy as taking candy from a baby. Pochoclin explains it to us like this,

‘We’re like Google… scraping for new content all over the internet.’

Bless you Pochoclin, whoever you are.

When asked whether there are plans to introduce a fee (very unlikely as it is open source), or perhaps introduce adverts in the app or on their website (which is also currently advert free) for this brilliant service, Pochoclin insisted that the answer is a definitive no,

‘We just did it for the love of this project, it was something we believed in. And once it started taking off … as it did from the start, all the love that we were getting from Popcorn Time users made us just keep on going without really stopping to think where this road is taking us.’

Although Netflix’s CEO Reed Hastings referred to Popcorn Time by name in a recent letter to shareholders – in which he described Piracy in general as its biggest competitor – Pochoclin insists that Popcorn Time itself is not doing anything illegal, and that it merely compiles existing BitTorrent files in to one easy to use place for consumers to be able to enjoy movies with out any of the hassle it used to entail,

‘It’s all automated and all working on existing open source technologies and existing websites online. Therefore, it’s legal. Or better … not illegal,’ Pochoclin says. ‘We all live in a free society, where what is not forbidden is allowed.’

An interesting point of view, and one that I’m sure Pochoclin can’t truly believe – unless he or she is insane – considering how Pirate Bay’s Swedish founder was found guilty during prosecution of running a similar service, which also simply redirects to content on other sites.

The fact remains that something illegal is going on when movies are being made easy to pirate en mass – whether it be technically you, the user, who is at fault, the Torrent site itself, or Popcorn Time for bringing that content to you on your PC or Android device is pretty irrelevant, and I would advise for caution when using Popcorn Time, and would definitely advise you to stay safe by using your VPN of choice to obfuscate your IP address.

That is not to say that I am advising you not to use Popcorn Time – quite the opposite – the MPAA closed it down once before, and they are sure to be trying to cull it again, so whether it stays up for ever or is eventually slaughtered once more remains to be seen.

For now, however it is still there, and with new p2p architecture about to be launched,  meaning that movies will come from other users rather than a central server ( and rather than the Swedish domain name that they are relying on with nothing more than faith at the moment), if you do already pirate movies it would be almost insane not to give Popcorn Time a go while it is available – so turn on your VPN,  get yourself on their website, and download their open source software while you can.

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