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‘Netflix for Pirates’ is coming back after being forced offline

Published Apr 27th, 2021 2:44PM EDT
Popcorn Time
Image: M. Zech Fotografie/Adobe

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Popcorn Time is a streaming service that was often referred to as the “Netflix for Pirates” when it first emerged. The app launched more than seven years ago and Netflix was the main streaming product out there, but many people still resorted to piracy. Perhaps Netflix wasn’t available in their country or they were not willing to subscribe. Netflix has expanded significantly since then, reaching virtually every possible market. Subscriber counts went up and each new paying customer brought on several more Netflix content consumers, as Netflix accounts are routinely shared between family and friends. The cost of the service went up as well, while Netflix dumped billions into creating original shows and movies to keep subscribers happy.

Everyone else in the business has launched a Netflix alternative in the past few years. Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, Disney+, HBO Max, Paramount+, and Peacock are just some examples of Netflix alternatives. Despite all that, Popcorn Time continued to thrive. The Netflix for Pirates saw plenty of changes over the years, facing tough opposition from copyright owners looking to block access. Most recently, a major Popcorn Time fork went down just weeks ago in what appeared to be a big victory for movie studios. But the streaming service isn’t ready to die just yet, and it’s expected to resurface soon.

Several movie companies accused the operators of the of massive copyright infringement, Torrent Freak reports. The court already issued a preliminary injunction against the service, ordering the registrar to lock the domain name so that it could not be transferred. Unsurprisingly, the site went down soon after. The case might be ongoing, but the victory makes sense.

The Popcorn Time developers handling the latest version of the project have told the blog that a comeback is in the works. Aside from issues with domain names, the team has also lost access to its Cloudflare account. The latter supposedly isn’t a problem caused by the trial. Instead, it’s the result of “internal” issues.

It’s unclear when the service will be resurrected. But just as it makes sense to see courts award early victories to movie studios in these cases, it makes sense to assume that any piracy service will return to life swiftly after any action taken against it. We’ve seen it before, and this cat-and-mouse game will continue for some time to come.

TorrentFreak points out that movie studios are going the extra mile to attack services that might enable streaming piracy. One example is VPN provider, which is also a defendant in the new case. The court signed a temporary restraining order forcing PayPal to freeze the VPN company’s funds. On the other hand, the Popcorn Time code is available on GitHub. That means anybody can create another fork.

Whatever your stance might be on Netflix for Pirates, the easiest route for getting guaranteed access to streaming entertainment is to subscribe to a legal service, whether it’s Netflix or something else. Sharing the costs between family members or a group of friends is an option that will help cut the monthly bill. Not to mention that using an official streaming service is also more secure than any product that streams pirated content.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.