Popcorn Time Website

That didn’t take long. Popcorn Time is/was the piracy site that according to TechCrunch “takes all of the hassles out of torrenting a movie.” TechCrunch goes on to describe Popcorn Time as “essentially Netflix for pirated movies.”

The launch of Popcorn Time was announced yesterday. Today it was pulled, at least temporarily. The punchline here is that it was yanked by Kim Dotcom‘s Mega! The Popcorn Time installer apparently violated the terms of service. Apparently Kim Dotcom is trying to play nice in order to forestall extradition to the U.S. on money laundering and other charges relating to piracy.

Content producers may be taking a collective sigh of relief. But that may be short lived. There are a number of disturbing things about Popcorn Time. The first is that the open source initiative stands to make piracy infinitely easier. That in and of itself chips away at one of the practical defenses against video piracy. It can be difficult (relatively) to download and sometimes find entire films.

What I find perhaps most disturbing is the way in which AOL owned TechCrunch can’t contain its glee over Popcorn Time. describing it as a “magical program.” I’m talking here about its launch, not its takedown. Here are a few excerpts:

Think of Popcorn Time like Netflix, just with movies worth watching. Find a title and click “Watch It Now”. That’s it…. All the videos are free. And slightly illegal.

Since the program is open source, hopefully it will make its way onto the Apple TV and other set-top boxes.

Technically these videos are copyrighted and the sheer ease of use of Popcorn Time is not going to make Hollywood happy. Popcorn Time is the easiest way to pirate movies yet.

But the lawyers will come eventually because Popcorn Time is just that good.

Let’s be real clear, here, AOL. Pirating movies is not slightly illegal. It is illegal. Full stop. End of sentence. And providing the infrastructure that makes possible piracy is very illegal. We’ll leave it to you to ask Kim Dotcom about how it feels to be on the receiving end of a police raid.

In a show of mock naiveté, Popcorn Time warns viewers

Popcorn Time streams movies from Torrents Downloading copyrighted material may be illegal in your country. Use at your own risk. 

Here’s what Popcorn Time puts in its FAQ section:

Is this legal?

Depends on where you’re from, really. Once again: we’re using torrents, so if you really care, you’d better google what the legal situation around these protocol is where you live.

And in exactly what English speaking countries (the warning is in English) is piracy not illegal?

Remember that piracy has an impact on an entire industry, or, more precisely, entire industries. We’re not talking about taking a couple of bucks out of Brad Pitt’s paycheck. We’re talking about taking away the livelihoods of working people who make it possible for us to watch movies and listen to music – sound engineers, editors, electricians, etc.

A lot of things are “just that good,” like the movies made available by Popcorn Time. You like and probably need to be paid for your work. The entertainment industry may be more visible, but it’s not any different.

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