Popular movie-streaming site PopcornTime.io is no more. Thanks, courts!

shows over courts shutter one of the last major popcorn time websites website
Popcorn Time, the popular open-source project that beautified the process of stealing watching first-run movies and TV shows for free, will soon become a bit harder to find if overseas justice systems have their way. Variety reports that a popular derivative of Popcorn Time, popcorntime.io, has been shut down in accordance with court decisions in New Zealand and Canada.

The development follows weeks of sporadic popcorntime.io uptime. Staff initially blamed the problem on infrastructure and a domain registrar, but law enforcement now appears to have been the culprit.

The shutdown was part of a “coordinated legal action” by the Motion Picture Association of America and several “international affiliates” to take down services perceived as infringing copyright, said MPAA chairman Chris Dodd in a statement. “Popcorn Time … [exists] for one clear reason: to distribute stolen copies of the latest motion picture and television shows without compensating the people who worked so hard to make them.”

Popcorn Time emerged in 2014 as a peer-to-peer torrent client for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux with a clear multimedia bent. But unlike most torrent clients, Popcorn Time’s interface evokes streaming services like Netflix in its simplicity and ease of use. You can browse movies and TV shows by genre, for instance, and select from an array of resolutions and subtitle options.

Unlike Netflix, though, Popcorn Time operates much like any other torrent client: it seeds (uploads) the material that it streams, and most of that material is copyrighted. Additionally, Popcorn Time stores temporary bits of files on the computer to which it’s installed and shares identifying information, including IP address, to the rest of the “swarm” — i.e., other users streaming the same movie or TV show.

That put Popcorn Time in the crosshairs of studios, governments, and industry interest groups from the beginning. In April, the U.K. High Court ruled that Internet service providers must block websites offering Popcorn Time software. And in September, indie production houses Millennium Films and Nu Image filed a lawsuit against 16 users who torrented films using Popcorn Time.

The group behind Popcorn Time, for their part, maintain that the program complies with copyright law because it “[merely] takes existing information and put it together” — the source of torrents, movie info, posters, and subtitles can be edited in code. All the same, the Buenos Aries-based developers shuttered Popcorn Time’s official website in March of last year under pressure from the MPAA. “Our experiment has put as at the doors of endless debates about piracy and copyright … and the shady machinery that makes us feel in danger for doing what we love,” they wrote in March of last year. “And that’s not a battle we want a place in.”

In its place have popped up dozens of “forks” — programs built atop of Popcorn Time’s original code — for a growing number of platforms. An Android and iOS client were released earlier this year, the latter with Apple’s (potentially unwitting) blessing. Many pack usability improvements too — the newest versions, like the one on which popcorntime.io was based, can stream movies and TV shows directly from a web browser.

In a recent statement provided to Torrent Freak, the developers of Popcorn Time blamed the proliferation of piracy on geographical restrictions and variable pricing. “Maybe it is time to consider the will of the people and offer them a legal, complete and useful service, no matter where they were born, instead of trying to punish people for … wanting to see the content artists and industries are offering,” they said.

Others beg to differ. Nu Image and Millennium Films call Popcorn Time “software … specifically designed for committing theft.” U.K. High Court judge Colin Birss but it more bluntly: “No-one really uses Popcorn Time in order to watch lawfully available content,” he said.

Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that some developers are attempting to legitimize Popcorn Time with a focus on licensed movie and TV sharing. But given the brand’s considerable legal baggage, they’ve got an uphill climb.

Home Theater

Kill your cable and switch to streaming with our painless guide

If you're going to quit cable or satellite for a streaming TV solution, you're going to want to get it right the first time. We've outlined exactly how to get started, step by step. Follow our lead, and you'll never look back.
Home Theater

Looking for the best 4K Ultra HD TVs you can buy? Here are five great options

If it's time to upgrade your old 1080p to a new 4K model but you don't know what to look for, fear not, as we're here with a list of the best 4K Ultra HD TVs to help make your buying process as easy as possible.
Home Theater

Sling TV ramps up its base programming with Discovery Networks for free

Sling TV has grown a great deal since its launch. Now there are more channels and more packages to chose from, with prices to match, and more is being added all the time. Everything you need to know is right here.
Home Theater

From the Roku Ultra to the Fire TV Cube, these are the best streaming devices

There are more options for media streamers than ever, so it’s more difficult to pick the best option. But that’s why we're here. Our curated list of the best streaming devices will get you online in no time.

Edit, sign, append, and save with six of the best PDF editors

There are plenty of PDF editors to be had online, and though the selection is robust, finding a solid solution with the tools you need can be tough. Here, we've rounded up best PDF editors, so you can edit no matter your budget or OS.

How to easily record your laptop screen with apps you already have

Learning how to record your computer screen shouldn't be a challenge. Lucky for you, our comprehensive guide lays out how to do so using a host of methods, including both free and premium utilities, in both MacOS and Windows 10.

Google Translate updated to reduce gender bias in its translations

Google is changing how Google Translate offers translations. Previously when you entered a word like doctor, Translate would offer a masculine interpretation of the word. Now, Translate will offer both masculine and feminine versions.

From beautiful to downright weird, check out these great dual monitor wallpapers

Multitasking with two monitors doesn't necessarily mean you need to split your screens with two separate wallpapers. From beautiful to downright weird, here are our top sites for finding the best dual monitor wallpapers for you.

Encryption-busting law passed in Australia may have global privacy implications

Controversial laws have been passed in Australia which oblige tech companies to allow the police to access encrypted messages, undermining the privacy of encryption with potentially global effects.

Can Microsoft’s Airband Initiative close broadband gap for 25M Americans?

A new report from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) says that 25 million Americans do not have access to broadband internet. Of these, more than 19 million are living in rural communities. Can Microsoft help out?

Microsoft’s Chromium Edge browser may be adding your Chrome extensions

Fans sticking to Google Chrome because due to its vast extension library might be able to switch over to Microsoft's latest iteration of Edge, as a project manager confirms that the company has its eyes on Chrome extensions.

If you've lost a software key, these handy tools can find it for you

Missing product keys getting you down? We've chosen some of the best software license and product key finders in existence, so you can locate and document your precious keys on your Windows or MacOS machine.

Google+ continues to sink with a second massive data breach. Abandon ship now

Google+ was scheduled to shut its doors in August 2019, but the second security breach in only a few months has caused the company to move its plan forward a few months. It might be a good idea to delete your account sooner than later.
Social Media

‘YouTube Rewind 2018’ is about to become its most disliked video ever

YouTube is about to achieve a record it really doesn't want — that of "most-disliked video." Yes, its annual recap of featuring popular YouTubers has gone down really badly this year.