Popcorn Time has grown immensely popular as the use of Internet Protocol television (IPTV) and free streaming platforms has risen. Now, they’ve created a new service called ReelGood, to offer viewers more choice in one location.
It seems that internet-based media is slowly phasing out traditional viewing mediums, such as cable. However, but are still a few problems. Despite the massive social acceptance of streaming platforms like Popcorn Time, there are some legal issues.
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For instance, consider that a lot of media streamed via Popcorn Time is illegal. Thus it is unsurprising that Popcorn Time has had its share of difficulties with the authorities over the years. As such, you may want to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) tunnel with Popcorn Time to unlock content and prevent third parties from seeing what you’re downloading.
Popcorn Time’s Checkered Past
It’s fairly common for content sharing platforms to draw heat from the authorities. When file and music sharing applications first became popular, copyright law hadn’t evolved to support personal use. Thus, both the software and its users were targeted. Two prime examples include Kazaa and LimeWire. Popcorn Time essentially provides the same functionality as these two applications. However, instead of music, Popcorn Time provides free access to streaming multimedia, movies, television shows, and video content.
Popcorn Time it is often referred to as the “poor man’s Netflix” or the “Netflix for pirates.” It’s no wonder that authorities have tried to shut it down. In fact, in early 2016, Norwegian authorities seized Popcorn Time’s domain. The seizure targeted Popcorn-Time.no. It motivated two digital rights organizations, Electronic Frontier Norway (EFN) and Norwegian Unix User Group (NUUG) to fire back at authorities with lawsuits.
Fortunately, the authorities failed to shut down Popcorn Time. One of the biggest reasons was that there are so many versions that it was virtually impossible to shut down the app completely. Since it’s open source, independent developers can make as many different versions as their hearts desire. This leads the authorities on a wild goose chase, in an impossible game of digital whack-a-mole.
Also, as the software is open source, anyone can view the source code that makes the program tick. As you may know, once something is posted on the internet, it’s virtually impossible to eradicate it completely. The Popcorn Time source code is free to download, so anyone can edit it and tweak the code to make a unique version. Large groups and rogue coders alike can write new code to add features, compile the software and create unique forks as they see fit.
Since so many people have access to the code, and because there are so many forks, it’s not really possible to stop Popcorn Time from progressing – at least with current technology. However, that’s not to say that the authorities haven’t tried. In addition to the Norwegian example, there was also an instance in which the MPAA tried to shut down Popcorn Time. The unwanted attention did scare many Popcorn Time developers into abandoning the current fork they were developing, but many returned with future projects.
How Popcorn Time Encourages Legal Streaming
Popcorn Time, in and of itself, is not illegal. In a way, it’s much the same as BitTorrent; the technology simply exists to share information. However, the information that users choose to share may or may not be legal, depending on a region’s copyright law and copyright enforcement procedures. Plus, when it comes to varying international laws and licensing restrictions, the legality of any single piece of content can change from territory to territory.
Thankfully, even though copyright laws vary from country to country, many nations now permit the free streaming of copyrighted materials for personal use only. Many people don’t see this as an immoral act. However, because Popcorn Time has suffered so much due to concerns of legality, developers have finally decided to take action that will allow users to stream legally.
One of the biggest problems with streaming media right now is that there are a million and one different sources from which viewers can get their content. However, most content sources don’t have all the content that any given viewer wants, so viewers are forced to cherry pick the content they’re interested in from a variety of sources. To alleviate this pain point, Popcorn Time developers have created a new content platform called ReelGood.
ReelGood aggregates masses of content to a single interface, instead of forcing users to go and hunt down content on their own. Essentially, it’s a bit like the TV Guide channel of streaming multimedia torrents, but it doesn’t only include pirated materials. It also includes paid subscriptions and members-only content, so that Popcorn Time users who feel inclined to play by the rules don’t have to pirate content.
It may not be the perfect solution (is there such a thing?), but it does permit users who don’t want to violate copyright laws to stream content legally. If this doesn’t sound like a big deal, consider that some foreign countries have much harsher copyright enforcement laws. ReelGood allows people living in these territories to find the content they want, just like Popcorn Time, and to pay for it (instead of trying to access that same content with archaic methods like signing up for a cable package).
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ReelGood is now available to use, thought it’s extremely young as far as digital services are concerned. In fact, it just finished its Beta testing in July 2017, making it officially about a month old.
ReelGood allows users to stream content legitimately. Viewers who live in areas where copyright law permits streaming for personal use can also still take advantage of Popcorn Time. Since ReelGood allows the law-abiding streaming of multimedia, it’s unlikely that it will suffer negative publicity or unwanted attention of the sort Popcorn Time has experienced. Though Popcorn Time is still available – and likely will be for years to come – I encourage anyone looking for a legal alternative to check out ReelGood.