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Popcorn Time

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Popcorn Time

Popcorn Time
Popcorn Time Official Logo
App UI from March 2014
Original author(s) ("Sebastian" et al)[1]
Preview release Beta 3.8.5 / September 7, 2015 (2015-09-07)[2]
Development status Ended
Written in HTML, JavaScript, CSS
Operating system Linux, OS X, Windows, Android
Platform Node.js
Available in 44 languages[3]
Type Movie / Television Streaming
License GPL v3

The original Popcorn Time software was a multi-platform, free software BitTorrent client that included an integrated media player. The program and its forks of the same name are free alternatives to subscription-based video streaming services (such as Netflix). Popcorn Time used sequential downloading to play copies of films listed by several torrent websites (although other trackers can be added and used manually).[4]

Following its inception, Popcorn Time quickly received positive media attention, with some[5] comparing the app to Netflix due to its ease of use. After this increase in popularity, the program was abruptly taken down by its original developers on March 14, 2014 due to pressure from the MPAA.[6] Since then, Popcorn Time has been forked by several other development teams to maintain the program and produce new features. The original Popcorn Time team ended up endorsing the popcorntime.io fork, and picked it as the successor to the official Popcorn Time as of August 2015.[7]

Functionality

The Popcorn Time interface presented thumbnails and film titles in a manner similar to Netflix. This list of media can be searched and browsed by genres or categories. When a user clicked on one of the titles, the film was downloaded via the BitTorrent protocol.[8] As with other BitTorrent clients, as soon as Popcorn Time started to download a film, it also started to share the downloaded content with other users (in technical terms, it seeded the torrent to others in the BitTorrent swarm).[9][10] It continued to make the downloaded content available to others until the movie is deleted, which was normally done automatically when the application was closed.

Big Buck Bunny on Popcorn Time 0.3.8

History

Popcorn Time was developed "in a couple of weeks" by a group from Buenos Aires, Argentina who elected "Pochoclín" (derived from pochoclo, which means popcorn in Buenos Aires parlance) as their mascot. They believed that piracy was a "service problem" created by "an industry that portrays innovation as a threat to their antique recipe to collect value," and also argued that streaming providers were being given too many restrictions and forced to provide inconsistent service between countries, noting that streaming providers in their native Argentina "seem to believe that There's Something About Mary is a recent movie. That movie would be old enough to vote here."[11]

Made available for Linux, Mac OS X, Windows and Android, Popcorn Time's source code was downloadable from their website; the project was intended to be Free Software. Contributors localized the program into 44 languages.[3][11][12]

Reception

Popcorn Time became the subject of mainstream media attention for its ease of use, with PC Magazine and CBS News likening Popcorn Time to Netflix, and noting its obvious advantages over Netflix such as the size of its library, and the recent selections available.[1][8] Caitlin Dewey of the Washington Post said Popcorn Time may have been an attempt to make the normally "sketchy" ecosystem of torrents more accessible by giving it a clean modern look and an easy-to-use interface.[13]

Legality

The legality of the various Popcorn Time clients matched that of all other BitTorrent clients plus the additional issues that applies to sites like The Pirate Bay and YTS itself, due to the explicit linking to movie content; its website claimed that the software was possibly illegal depending on local laws.[11]

In the UK a court order was given in April 2015 to ISPs to block URLs that provided either the Popcorn Time application software (PTAS) or "sources of update information" (SUI) – i.e. pointers to torrent-indexing sites. The court found that (unlike previous cases concerning indexing sites directly) neither websites providing the PTAS nor the SUI could be construed to be "communicating a work to the public," since neither contained any specific information about any specific work. It considered it entirely probable that both the providers of the PTAS and the SUI could be held to be "authorising acts of infringement" by users, but this was not the case that the claimants had raised at the hearing. Instead, they had claimed that the providers had been authorising acts of infringement by content-hosting websites, but then that claim had not been made out.

However, the judge found that the Popcorn Time suppliers did "plainly know and intend" for the application to be "the key means which procures and induces the user to access the host website and therefore causes the infringing communications to occur"; and on this basis had "a common design with the operators of the host websites" and therefore shared a joint liability for the copyright infringements (joint tortfeasance). It was therefore appropriate to order the ISPs to block the websites as provided for by section 97A of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988.[14][15]

On May 20, 2015, the government of Israel blocked all access to the official downloads of Popcorn Time, due to a lawsuit from its biggest cable and satellite providers for copyright infringement. Although the download sites have been blocked, anyone who still has a copy of the installation file and/or the program will not be affected, and there's no denial that there are other sharing sites that can distribute installation files.

August 17, 2015, the Danish website popcorntime.dk was shut down by Danish police and two persons were arrested. The case has caused some controversy as the website is not affiliated with the Popcorn Time developer teams but only distributed information about the service.

As with other BitTorrent clients, the IP addresses of users can easily be determined by third parties. In early 2015 many German Popcorn Time users received demands for damages of €815. The high amount was justified by the fact that the application not only downloads but also distributes movies,[16] a fact that not all users were aware of.

Cobbler Nevada, LLC v. Anonymous Users of Popcorn Time: Does 1-11

This article was cited in a civil complaint in Cobbler Nevada, LLC v. Anonymous Users of Popcorn Time: Does 1-11. Rec. Doc. 1 at 5, Case No. 3:15-cv-1550 (D. Or. 2015) (attempting to distinguish Popcorn Time from "other software programs" by asserting, without support other than this article, that Popcorn Time has no legitimate purposes).[17]

Discontinuation

On March 14, 2014, Popcorn Time's website and GitHub repository were abruptly removed, with the developers stating that despite the unexpectedly positive media coverage that the software attracted, they simply wanted to move on, and that "our experiment has put us at the doors of endless debates about copyright infringement and copyright, legal threats and the shady machinery that makes us feel in danger for doing what we love. And that's not a battle we want a place in."[10][12][18] It was later revealed by the Sony leaks that the MPAA did indeed prevent the original developers of Popcorn Time from continuing to work on the program. At the time, the MPAA considered themselves to have "scored a major victory in shutting down the key developers of Popcorn Time" via an action that required collaboration on three continents, intended to prevent Popcorn Time from becoming a "major piracy threat."[6]

The developers claimed that the majority of their users were those outside of the United States, and that it was "installed on every single country on Earth. Even the two that don't have internet access," by users who would "risk fines, lawsuits and whatever consequences that may come just to be able to watch a recent movie in slippers. Just to get the kind of experience they deserve." They also praised media outlets for not antagonizing them in their coverage of Popcorn Time, and agreeing with their views that the movie industry was anti-consumer and too restrictive in regard to innovation.[11]

On October 23, 2015, Popcorn Time's website stopped working.[19]

Successor

After its discontinuation, the Popcorn Time application was forked by various different groups to continue development of the project.[18] On August 8, 2015, the website of the original Popcorn Time application was redirected to the popcorntime.io website.[20] A few days later, members of the original Popcorn Time project announced that they would endorse the popcorntime.io project as the successor to the original discontinued Popcorn Time.[21]

Legacy

After the original developers discontinued the program, a couple of teams forked the original Popcorn Time source code and continued development independently. These groups continued using the name "Popcorn Time", but other than the Popcorn Time project, these forks are not associated with the developers of the original application. The developers of the original Popcorn Time had members join the Popcorn Time project, and endorsed this as the successor to the discontinued old Popcorn Time.[21]

PopcornTime.io

Popcorntime.io was a Free Software fork of the original Popcorn Time program. The code is directly based on the original Popcorn Time, and the source code is available for viewing and editing on GitHub, and is licence by the GNU General Public License.[22]

On September 17, 2014 the fork at popcorn time.io added support for Chromecast and AirPlay devices.[23] Also, on November 6, 2014 the popcorntime.io developers launched a Remote Control API.[24] On December 25, 2014, a mobile version for Android 4.0.3 and up was launched, and initial support for built-in VPN access.[25] In October 2015, PopcornTime.io was permanently shut down, along with YTS.[26]

Popcorn-Time.se (formerly Time4Popcorn.eu)

This Popcorn Time fork was originally launched with the web domain time4popcorn.eu. On October 9, 2014, the domain time4popcorn.eu was suspended by Eurid, as a result of a legal investigation against time4popcorn.eu. The programs that rely on the time4popcorn.eu domain temporarily stopped functioning, but the program and website was updated to a new domain popcorn-time.se.[27][28] As the original time4Popcorn.eu domain was forcibly removed, the team moved to the popcorn-time.se website.[29]

On May 13, 2014 the fork released a mobile version for Android phones and tablet devices.[30] In addition, popcorn-time.se added built in VPN on June 9, 2014, provided by Kebrum.[31] The popcorn-time.se developers later added Chromecast support for desktop and Android.[32][33] On July 30, 2014, popcorn-time.se developers added support for the Apple TV to their desktop app; on September 30, 2014, an app for jailbroken iOS devices was released.[34][35][36]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b
  4. ^ The protocol does not allow streaming, either in a technical or legal sense; instead, sequential downloading is used
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b Hollywood Tries to Crush Popcorn Time, Again
  7. ^ Torrent Freak, Original Popcorn Time Team Backs Popular Fork By Ernesto on August 12, 2015
  8. ^ a b
  9. ^
  10. ^ a b
  11. ^ a b c d
  12. ^ a b
  13. ^
  14. ^ Eleonora Rosati, Popcorn Time: a blocking order like any other? Birss J's decision in the post-Svensson debate, IPKat blog, April 29, 2015
  15. ^ Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation & Ors v Sky UK Ltd & Ors [2015] EWHC 1082 (Ch)
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ a b
  19. ^ http://butterproject.github.io/
  20. ^
  21. ^ a b
  22. ^ Popcorn Time
  23. ^ Popcorn Time 0.3.3
  24. ^ Popcorn Time 0.3.4
  25. ^ Christmas Cheer, and the New Years holiday
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^ Popcorn Time Adds Apple TV Support, iOS App Coming Soon TorrentFreak July 30, 2014
  35. ^ The 'Netflix For Pirated Movies' Will Soon Work With Your Apple TV by Steven Tweedie Business Insider July 30, 2014, 9:41 am
  36. ^

External links

  • popcorn-time.se
  • Original official website
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