Netflix step aside, a new wave of video streaming applications debuted in 2014. They don’t really compete with your average subscription-based services as they’re free and open-source, but they play their part in the war on internet-piracy.
Several developers sought added functionality not found in modern BitTorrent clients like uTorrent and Transmission, so they created their own. With one significant addition a never-before-seen type of video streaming application was born. It eliminated the need to download an entire video and accessed (downloaded) only the portion necessary for viewing at the precise moment.
Popcorn Time and a slew of spinoffs quickly became the “new Netflix” among internet users already familiar with torrenting. It works on the same basis as torrenting a movie or television show from The PirateBay, but rather than searching for a file and waiting for it to download, Popcorn Time will download and play the first portion of a movie, constantly buffering the remainder while you watch. When the movie or show is over nothing remains on your computer and SOPA is none the wiser. Sounds interesting eh?
There’s no questioning the legality in using a BitTorrent client to unlawfully acquire digital media. The law-breaking isn’t committed when you download and install uTorrent, but rather when you downloading something you’d normally need to pay to receive. Thus, what you’re allowed to do with Popcorn Time is largely dependent on the country in which you reside. Online piracy in the United States is sometimes as widely heated a debate as gun control and abortion so if you read this from the US the answer is no, you cannot legally use Popcorn Time or the like to stream movies and TV.
Popcorn Time Today
As of now you can still download Beta 3.5 from popcorntime.io, although an astute warning states “Downloading copyrighted material may be illegal in your country. Use at your own risk.” To my knowledge, upon being ruled illegal for its intended purpose Popcorn Time’s original developers abandoned the project. It was revived by an open-source community who identify as “a bunch of geeks from All Around The World.” I haven’t kept up with news surrounding the project and can’t verify the current working status of Beta 3.5 so I’ll leave that to the adventurous.
The reason for mentioning Popcorn Time was simply to make known the existence of an impressive feat of programming to as many people as possible. It’s important that we maintain an accurate picture of the state of technology and the internet. Refusing to be ignorant of technology enables one to know exactly where we, as the human race, stand.
Whether you choose to act on any newfound knowledge is your decision. Go forth into a world beyond Netflix.