If you’ve been keeping track of streaming services over the past year, Popcorn Time has undoubtedly been on your radar. This questionably legal app allows users to stream movies and TV shows directly from torrent files online through a slick user interface, avoiding the bothersome downloads and the unsavory advertisements that accompany most torrent sites.
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Popcorn Time ran into legal trouble shortly after it launched in 2014, but the software was quickly relaunched by anonymous coders and split into several different forks, making it even more difficult for law enforcement to track.
Now, celebrating a year online, a developer from one of the most popular forks of Popcorn Time has taken the time to speak with Wired about their experience so far and the future of the program. For the purposes of the interview, the spokesperson preferred to carry the pseudonym Pochoclin (the popcorn mascot that appears on the software).
“We’re at the threshold of one of the most exciting times since we started this project,” Pochoclin writes. “Making all our data available via p2p will mean that Popcorn Time will no longer rely on domains and centralized servers but only on its user base.”
When Wired first began corresponding with Popcorn-Time.se, the service had managed to grow to 4 million users, but when Time4Popcorn.eu was revoked by the domain registrar, the developers were forced to move to a new site.
“[EURid’s domain seizure] was just a small setback … a small but painful kick to the balls,” the spokesperson says. “We’ve grown this project tremendously since we picked it up … The numbers just keep rising.”
And Netflix CEO Reed Hastings is well aware of the competition. As Wired reminds us, Hastings referred to Popcorn Time by name after stating that “piracy continues to be one of our biggest competitors” in a note to investors earlier this year.
The service’s popularity might be rising, but the pressure from Hollywood’s legal representation is growing along with it.
“If they know that they’re actually facilitating the downloading or streaming of copyrighted movies and they continue to do it, they’re in trouble,”says University of Richmond intellectual property law professor Jim Gibson.