Popcorn Time: Netflix on Steroids?


A new streaming movie app, appropriately named ‘Popcorn Time’, has been receiving a lot of publicity recently, and with very good reason. Unlike Netflix, Popcorn Time is totally free, available anywhere in the world, and lists new releases in its movie library.

popcorn time banner

Popcorn Time is a cross-platform Open Source project which is currently in Beta stage with further development expected to eventually see final versions available for Windows, Mac and Linux. The Windows version supports Windows 7 and above. Download is a 23.5MB executable which, according to Virus Total, is 100% clean.

Installation is straightforward and users quickly get to browse through a comprehensive catalog of new and still-in-cinema films interspersed with a fair smattering of older and classic movies. Viewing options can be selected from either 720p or 1080p HD and movies are generally accompanied by an impressive range of subtitle language options.

popcorn time features

It all sounds just a little too good to last and perhaps it is. Of course, the main concerns with Popcorn Time are the potential illegalities involved. Popcorn Time developers are quick to point out that they are generating zero income from the project and that they are not hosting anything themselves:

We don’t expect legal issues. We don’t host anything, and none of the developers makes any money. There are no ads, no premium accounts, and no subscription fees or anything like that.

Still, I’m not so sure any of that is going to appease a very unhappy movie industry. Here are a few things you should consider re Popcorn Time:

  • Although torrenting itself is not illegal, downloading and/or distributing copyrighted material is. Even supposing the Popcorn Time developers are in the clear, what about the users?
Disclaimer from the PT site

Disclaimer from the PT site

  • Because Popcorn Time is utilizing the torrent protocol, users will be seeding (uploading) all during the streaming process and until the PC or device is restarted.
  • Even though Popcorn Time states… “Your movies will stay buried in a secret folder somewhere in your drive until you restart your computer. Then it will be gone for good“… there will likely still be a breadcrumb trail of associated remnants stored somewhere.
  • All of the torrents come from YIFY Torrents, a public version of invitation-only film torrent sites such as PassThePopcorn. So, not only would Popcorn Time be illegal in the eyes of the RIAA and other industry watchdogs, it’s also not as secure in terms of user data encryption and privacy as a peer-to-peer network.

After all is said and done, I seriously doubt that the legal implications are going to deter too many potential users. I must admit to having very little sympathy for the money hungry movie industry myself. In the end, I guess it comes down to personal beliefs and each individual’s own conscience. Plus, of course, how much of a risk one is prepared to take in order to watch movies for free.


What do you think?

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About the Author

Jim Hillier

Jim is the resident freeware aficionado at DCT. A computer veteran with 30+ years experience who first started writing about computers and tech back in the days when freeware was actually free. His first computer was a TRS-80 in the 1980s, he progressed through the Commodore series of computers before moving to PCs in the 1990s. Now retired (aka an old geezer), Jim retains his passion for all things tech and still enjoys building and repairing computers for a select clientele... as well as writing for DCT, of course.

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