It was always inevitable that Popcorn Time, the super slick “Netflix for pirate” app that can deliver high quality (720p or 1080p) video streaming without buffering issues on even fairly slow internet connections, would face stiff opposition from the very powerful and well-funded copyright enforcement community.
An important thing to understand about Popcorn Time is that it comes in a number of different flavors (known as forks.) The app was originally developed by an Argentinian coder known as ‘Sebastian’, but in March 2014 he withdrew from the project, and all Popcorn Files were deleted from the Mega servers on which they were stored. ‘Sebastian’ (real name Federico Abad) has since revealed that he finally caved into legal threats by Warner Bros.
The cat, however, was well and truly out of the bag, as the open source code for Popcorn Time was by now freely available via BitTorrent. A number of other developers picked up the ball and started to develop their own versions of Popcorn Time based on the original code, often adding additional features.
Not all of these survived, but there are now a number of versions (forks) of Popcorn Time available, and despite numerous attempts by the entertainment industry to suppress or shut them down, two of these became front-runners in terms of their longevity, stability, and range of features – Popcorn Time.io and Popcorn Time.se.
However, after a chaotic couple of weeks it now seems that Popcorn Time.io has permanently shut down.
PT.se was the most popular Popcorn Time fork, and the one that always claimed to be more “official” (whatever that means for an open source app, but it is a claim was boosted by endorsement from the app’s original developer, Federico Abad, aka “Sebastian”.)
Not only is PT.se no more, but popular torrent site YTS (formerly YIFY), which was known for producing high-quality movie rips with low file sizes, and from which PT.se sourced its movie offerings, has also suddenly disappeared.
The cause for this is unverified at time of writing, and initial speculation centers on a DDoS attack of some kind. It would be easy, however, to see the timing of YTS’ current problems and the demise of PT.se as more than coincidence.
Internal disputes between PopcornTime.io team members, possibly related to worries about legal action due to some of the group profiting from the integrated VPN.ht service, caused a falling out between the PT.io developers a week or so ago.
The issue was then further complicated by problems transferring the PopcornTime.io domain name from its existing owner to the one of the remaining developers. With the website inaccessible, and the infrastructure not working, the remaining developers (those involved in VPN.ht) threw in the towel. “Wally” informed TorrentFreak that,
“I shutdown all the servers, there is nothing I can do anymore. I deleted any logs that can be harmful for any other dev.”
So bye-bye PopcornTime.se…. and hello…
Some of the Popcorn Time developers.se (we are guessing the ones which split away from the project over worries about PT.se monetizing via the VPN.ht service) have launched new Popcorn Time fork called Butter Project.
Unlike previous PT forks, Project Butter does not directly integrate copyrighted content, but will instead allow users to add their own sources, and the code currently available only integrates content from licenced content provider VODO.
This is a sensible move that will allow the devs to put greater distance between themselves and accusations of copyright piracy. It should be noted that at present no executable files are available for users, although according to the Butter Project Facebook page,
“Once we have that solid core people will be able to build awesome apps like my big brother from it. Right now we’re working hard to get a tech preview.”
We look forward to developments with interest, but in the meantime those needing Popcorn Time can use Popcorn Time.se, which remains available and fully functional.
Unlike PT.io, which used a single source for content (YTS), PT.se obtains content from various sources, and should therefore be much more resilient to disruption.