An open source, BitTorrent powered app is aiming to be the Netflix of piracy. But unlike Netflix, Popcorn Time gives you all the latest movies for streaming, and all of it for free.
Starting out as a small experiment among friends, the open source project now has over 20 contributors and is now available in six languages. The software pulls together several commonly available APIs, for torrenting, subtitles, and the interface, which is a basic browser that renders web pages on the Windows, Mac and Linux systems that Popcorn Time currently supports.
Once started, Popcorn Time gives users a clean, modern and easy to use interface that shows posters of available movies, not too dissimilar to the way Netflix does it. Once a movie is selected, the best torrents for the movie is automatically selected and streaming starts in a matter of seconds.
Perhaps optimistically, one of the designers behind the app says that he does not expect any legal issues, despite Popcorn Time offering movies that are not even available on DVD yet, such as Disney's Frozen. Sebastian, based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, says that Popcorn Time does not break any laws because there's no commercial intent associated with the open source software.
"We don’t expect legal issues. We don’t host anything, and none of the developers makes any money. There are no ads, no premium accounts, and no subscription fees or anything like that. It’s an experiment to learn and share," explains Sebastian.
Hollywood might just share a slightly different view. At the time of writing, the downloads for Popcorn Time has been removed, ironically by Kim DotCom's Mega file hosting site, possibly at the request of rights holders.
Update (15 March): The developers of Popcorn Time has shut down the official site. They are adamant that their software platform is completely legal, but "endless debates about piracy and copyright, legal threats and the shady machinery that makes us feel indanger for doing what we love" was the ultimately reason why they have decided to shut it down. As Popcorn Time is an open source project, the source code and binary builds will continue to float around the net and keep the app alive.