- Popcorn Time is a free software BitTorrent client that includes a media player where users can watch various television shows and movies. The platform was created by a team of anonymous Argentinian developers in 2014.
- Popcorn Time was shut down two weeks after launch, but the open-source nature of the platform meant other developers quickly created new forks. In a similar fashion to most torrent sites, Popcorn Time disappeared and then reappeared on various new domains before authorities shut them down too.
- Traffic on the platform decreased because individual users were wary of legal action and heavy financial penalties. Many users simply migrated to streaming services such as Amazon Prime and Netflix. Popcorn Time continues to be available today.
The story of Popcorn Time
Popcorn Time is a free software BitTorrent client that includes a media player where users can watch various television shows and movies. The platform was created by a team of anonymous Argentinian developers in 2014, with only one member, Federico Abad, so far identified.
Abad created Popcorn Time because he grew tired of having to wait six months after a cinematic release for a film to be available in his country. The platform was eventually launched in March 2014 with hundreds of thousands of users downloading it in the first two weeks.
Inevitably, however, Popcorn Time attracted the ire of movie producers and was shut down and reborn several times over a period of years.
Interested in learning more? Some of the story of what happened to Popcorn Time is told below.
Two weeks after launch, a team of lawyers assembled by the Warner Bros. film studio managed to find the developers and their respective LinkedIn profiles. Abad and his counterparts became nervous about an impending lawsuit similar to those experienced by the likes of LimeWire or Napster.
As a result, Popcorn Time was, at least in theory, shut down. But the open-source nature of the project meant that GitHub developers soon revived and relaunched it. Chief among them were members of popular torrent site YTS whose API the platform was utilizing.
From domain to domain
In much the same way as The Pirate Bay, Popcorn Time would be shut down and then re-appear on a different domain. The first relatively successful move was to time4popcorn.eu, which released an app for Android and jailbroken iOS devices. However, domain authorities in Europe shut the site down and Popcorn Time was moved to popcorn-time.se.
Another version, popcorntime.io, released a VPN in November 2014 and became one of the first forks to monetize the already illegal service.
Further regulation and dwindling traffic
In May 2015, the U.K. High Court ruled that several ISPs in the country would be required to restrict access to any page associated with Popcorn Time. As the year wore on, increasing numbers of film studios threatened to sue users on the platform, with Danish police also heavily penalizing two individuals for running an explainer site.
Ultimately, the fear of heavy fines and potential lawsuits caused traffic to decrease. Many forks suffered because of developer disagreements while others were simply abandoned altogether.
Emergence of streaming services and legal action
While the popular .io fork was still online in early 2016, the emergence of streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime continued to take users away from Popcorn Time. The platform then became even less palatable in 2017 after reports surfaced that subtitle files were infected with malware.
The Movie Picture Association of America – instrumental in initiating lawsuits earlier in the piece – then sued GitHub for violating copyright. While the source code was taken down, it reappeared two weeks later because the code itself was not subject to copyright law.
Today, Popcorn Time continues to be available.
Main Free Guides: