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Popcorn Time

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Popcorn Time
Popcorn Time logo.png
Original author(s)Federico Abad, Matías Fork, et al.
Preview release
Beta 0.3.10 / October 31, 2016; 3 years ago (2016-10-31)[1]
Written inHTML, JavaScript, NodeJS, CSS
  • NW.js
  • V8
Edit this at Wikidata
Operating systemLinux, OS X, Windows, Android
Available in44 languages[2]
TypeBitTorrent client / Peer-to-peer
LicenseGPL v3

Popcorn Time is a multi-platform, free software BitTorrent client that includes an integrated media player. The application provides a free alternative to subscription-based video streaming services such as Netflix. Popcorn Time uses sequential downloading to stream video listed by several torrent websites, and third party trackers can also be added manually. The legality of the software depends on the jurisdiction.

Following its creation, Popcorn Time quickly received positive media attention, with some comparing the app to Netflix for its ease of use.[3] After this increase in popularity, the program was abruptly taken down by its original developers on March 14, 2014, due to pressure from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).[4] Since then, the program has been forked several times with several other development teams such as Time4Popcorn and the Butter Project to maintain the program and produce new features. Time4Popcorn reportedly gained millions of users within four months of launching in 2014 and became the first fork to bring Popcorn Time to Android devices.[5] In September of 2014, Time4Popcorn became available on jailbroken Apple devices, and eventually non-jailbroken iOS devices via a Windows installation tool.[6]


Big Buck Bunny on Popcorn Time 0.3.8

The Popcorn Time interface presents thumbnails and film titles in a manner similar to Netflix. This list of media can be searched and browsed by genres or categories. When a user clicks on one of the titles, the film is downloaded via the BitTorrent protocol.[7] As with other BitTorrent clients, as soon as Popcorn Time starts to download a film, it also starts to share the downloaded content with other users (in technical terms, it seeds the torrent to others in the BitTorrent swarm).[8][9] It continues to make the downloaded content available to others until the movie is deleted, which is normally done automatically once the application is closed.


Popcorn Time was developed "in a couple of weeks" by a group from Buenos Aires, Argentina who elected "Pochoclín" (derived from pochoclo, which means popcorn in Buenos Aires parlance) as their mascot. They believed that piracy was a "service problem" created by "an industry that portrays innovation as a threat to their antique recipe to collect value", and also argued that streaming providers were being given too many restrictions and forced to provide inconsistent service between countries, noting that streaming providers in their native Argentina "seem to believe that There's Something About Mary [1998] is a recent movie. That movie would be old enough to vote here."[10]

Made available for Linux, macOS, Windows and Android, Popcorn Time's source code was downloadable from their website; the project was intended to be free software. Contributors localized the program into 44 languages.[2][10][11]


Popcorn Time became the subject of mainstream media attention for its ease of use, with PC Magazine and CBC News likening Popcorn Time to Netflix, and noting its obvious advantages over Netflix such as the size of its library, and the recent selections available.[12][7] Caitlin Dewey of the Washington Post said Popcorn Time may have been an attempt to make the normally "sketchy" ecosystem of torrents more accessible by giving it a clean modern look and an easy-to-use interface.[13]


The legality of the various Popcorn Time clients matched that of all other BitTorrent clients plus the additional issues that applies to sites like The Pirate Bay and YTS itself, due to the explicit linking to movie content; its website claimed that the software was possibly illegal depending on local laws.[10][14]

In the UK a court order was given in April 2015 to ISPs to block URLs that provided either the Popcorn Time application software (PTAS) or "sources of update information" (SUI), i.e. pointers to torrent-indexing sites. The court found that, unlike previous cases concerning indexing sites directly, neither websites providing the PTAS nor the SUI could be construed to be "communicating a work to the public", since neither contained any specific information about any specific work. It considered it entirely probable that both the providers of the PTAS and the SUI could be held to be "authorising acts of infringement" by users, but this was not the case that the claimants had raised at the hearing. Instead, they had claimed that the providers had been authorising acts of infringement by content-hosting websites, but then that claim had not been made out.

The judge, however, found that the Popcorn Time suppliers did "plainly know and intend" for the application to be "the key means which procures and induces the user to access the host website and therefore causes the infringing communications to occur"; and on this basis had "a common design with the operators of the host websites" and therefore shared a joint liability for the copyright infringements (joint tortfeasance). It was therefore appropriate to order the ISPs to block the websites as provided for by section 97A of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988.[15][16]

On May 20, 2015, the government of Israel blocked all access to the official downloads of Popcorn Time, following a lawsuit from its biggest cable and satellite providers for copyright infringement. Although the download sites were blocked, internet users still possessing a copy of the installation file and/or the program were not affected, and there were other sharing sites that distributed installation files. Less than a month later, the government reversed the ban.

On August 17, 2015, the Danish website was shut down by Danish police and two arrests were made.[17] The case has caused controversy given that the website is not affiliated with the Popcorn Time developer teams but only distributed information about the service.

As with other BitTorrent clients, the IP addresses of users of the original app or its forks can easily be determined by third parties. In early 2015, many German Popcorn Time users received demands for damages of €815. The high amount was justified by the fact that the application not only downloads but also distributes movies,[18] a fact that not all users were aware of.

Cobbler Nevada, LLC v. Anonymous Users of Popcorn Time: Does 1-11

This article was cited in a civil complaint in Cobbler Nevada, LLC v. Anonymous Users of Popcorn Time: Does 1-11. Rec. Doc. 1 at 5, Case No. 3:15-cv-1550 (D. Or. 2015) (attempting to distinguish Popcorn Time from "other software programs" by asserting, that Popcorn Time has no legitimate purposes; the only evidence cited in support of this claim was the "Popcorn Time" Wikipedia article).[19] The complaint alleged that users illegally downloaded copies of the Adam Sandler movie The Cobbler.[20]

On March 8, 2016, Norway's police unit for economic crimes, Økokrim, seized the domain name.[21][22] The site did not host the Popcorn Time application but instead had articles and links to sites that offered the application. The seizure is being contested by the Norwegian member organizations NUUG and EFN.[23]


On March 14, 2014, Popcorn Time's original website and GitHub repository were abruptly removed, with the developers stating that despite the unexpectedly positive media coverage that the software attracted, they simply wanted to move on, and that "our experiment has put us at the doors of endless debates about copyright infringement and copyright, legal threats and the shady machinery that makes us feel in danger for doing what we love. And that's not a battle we want a place in".[9][11][24] It was later revealed by the Sony leaks that the MPAA did indeed prevent the original developers of Popcorn Time from continuing to work on the program. At the time, the MPAA considered themselves to have "scored a major victory in shutting down the key developers of Popcorn Time" via an action that required collaboration on three continents, intended to prevent Popcorn Time from becoming a "major piracy threat".[4]

The developers claimed that the majority of their users were those outside of the United States, and that it was "installed on every single country on Earth. Even the two that don't have internet access," by users who would "risk fines, lawsuits and whatever consequences that may come just to be able to watch a recent movie in slippers. Just to get the kind of experience they deserve". They also praised media outlets for not antagonizing them in their coverage of Popcorn Time, and agreeing with their views that the movie industry was anti-consumer and too restrictive in regard to innovation.[10]


After its discontinuation, the Popcorn Time application was forked by various different groups to continue development of the project.[24] On August 8, 2015, the website of the original Popcorn Time application was redirected to the website.[25] A few days later, members of the original Popcorn Time project announced that they would endorse the project as the successor to the original discontinued Popcorn Time.[26]


Argentinian programmer Niv Sardi, one of the developers of the fork.[27]

After the original developers discontinued the program, other teams forked the original Popcorn Time source code and continued development independently. These groups continued using the name "Popcorn Time", but other than the Popcorn Time project, these forks are not associated with the developers of the original application. The developers of the original Popcorn Time had members join the Popcorn Time project, and endorsed this as the successor to the discontinued old Popcorn Time.[26], formerly, is sponsored by private VPN company[28][29]

Time4Popcorn (,

This Popcorn Time fork was originally launched with the web domain The domain was suspended by Eurid, as a result of a legal investigation against The programs that rely on the domain temporarily stopped functioning, but the program and website were updated to a new domain[30][31] As the original domain was forcibly removed, the team moved to the website.[32] On May 13, 2014 the fork released a mobile version for Android phones and tablets.[33] In addition, added built in VPN on June 9, 2014, provided by Kebrum.[34] The developers later added Chromecast support for desktop and Android.[35][36] On July 30, 2014, developers added support for the Apple TV to their desktop app; on September 30, 2014, an app for jailbroken iOS devices was released.[37][38][39] An anonymous development team created a tool that allows iOS users to download the fork via Windows, thus allowing non-jailbroken devices to install Popcorn Time.[40]

Popcorn Time Community Edition

Following the shutdown of, users of Popcorn Time created a series of fixes that modified the original software and got it working again.[41] The fixes were added to the Popcorn Time installers and named Popcorn Time Community Edition, giving credit to the community of users that resurrected the software.[42] (formerly is a free software fork of the original Popcorn Time program. In October 2015, was shut down, along with the YTS website.[43]

On November 3, 2015, the domain was obtained by the MPAA after winning court orders in Canada and New Zealand.[44] This came about after winning an injunction on October 16, 2015, to shut the website down, although the project reappeared on a new website ([45][46][47][48]

See also


  1. ^ team-pct (September 7, 2015). "Popcorn Time Release". Popcorn Time Github. Popcorn Time. Retrieved February 16, 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Transifex".
  3. ^ "Music group threatens popcorn times blog platform". Torrent Freak. Retrieved January 31, 2015. when the 'Netflix for Pirates' celebrates
  4. ^ a b "Hollywood Tries to Crush Popcorn Time, Again - TorrentFreak". December 19, 2014.
  5. ^ Kastrenakes, Jacob; Vincent, James (October 23, 2015). "A brief history of Popcorn Time, the piracy service everyone's watching". The Verge. The Verge. Retrieved June 18, 2020.
  6. ^ Greenberg, Andy (April 8, 2015). [ "How Popcorn Time's Piracy App Is Sneaking Onto iPhones"] Check |url= value (help). Wired. Wired. Retrieved June 18, 2020.
  7. ^ a b "'Popcorn Time' Is Like Netflix for Pirated Movies". PC Magazine. Retrieved March 16, 2014.
  8. ^ "Netflix-like torrenting app Popcorn Time disappears". Ars Technica. Retrieved March 16, 2014.
  9. ^ a b "Popcorn Time reinvents the seedy process of torrenting". Ars Technica. Retrieved March 16, 2014.
  10. ^ a b c d "Goodbye Popcorn Time". Popcorn Time developers. Retrieved March 16, 2014.
  11. ^ a b "Popcorn Time Is Over: Potent Piracy App Quickly Calls It Quits". Time. Retrieved March 16, 2014.
  12. ^ Misener, Dan. "Popcorn Time is like 'Netflix for pirates'". CBC News. Retrieved March 12, 2014.
  13. ^ "How to easily watch any movie from your computer for free". Washington Post. Retrieved March 16, 2014.
  14. ^ David, Fishcher (4 January 2016). "Everything you need to know about popcorn time". (in Dutch). Popcorn Time News. Retrieved 3 October 2017.
  15. ^ Eleonora Rosati, Popcorn Time: a blocking order like any other? Birss J's decision in the post-Svensson debate, IPKat blog, April 29, 2015
  16. ^ Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation & Ors v Sky UK Ltd & Ors [2015] EWHC 1082 (Ch)
  17. ^ "Police Arrest Men For Spreading Popcorn Time Information - TorrentFreak". 19 August 2015.
  18. ^ "Anwälte verzeichnen viele Abmahnungen zu Popcorn Time". (in German). January 19, 2015.
  19. ^ "Complaint" (PDF).
  20. ^ "Lawsuit claims locals illegally downloaded Adam Sandler movie". Retrieved 9 March 2016.
  21. ^ Norwegian Police Seize Popcorn-Time “Information” Site TorrentFreak Retrieved March 8, 2016
  22. ^ Hafsahl, Gunhild (March 8, 2016). "Beslag i domenet". Archived from the original on March 11, 2016. Retrieved March 11, 2016.
  23. ^ "Pressemelding: NUUG og EFN begjærer rettslig prøving for DNS-domenebeslag av - Nyheter fra NUUG".
  24. ^ a b "Torrent Site Popcorn Time, Shut Down Yesterday, Is Alive Again". Gizmodo. Retrieved March 16, 2014.
  25. ^ "Wayback Machine". Archived from the original on August 3, 2015. Retrieved August 8, 2015. Cite uses generic title (help)
  26. ^ a b "Popcorn Time's origins in terms with today". Popcorn Time Blog. Archived from the original on September 6, 2015. Retrieved August 13, 2015.
  27. ^ "Popcorn Time with Niv Sardi". November 23, 2015. Archived from the original on March 1, 2016. Retrieved December 12, 2015.
  28. ^ Dellinger, AJ (March 18, 2020). "Popcorn Time, the 'Netflix for piracy,' is back just in time". Mic. Mic. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  29. ^ "Popcorntime.App - Info". HypeStat. HypeStat. March 26, 2020. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  30. ^ "Home". Popcorn Time. Popcorn Time. October 11, 2014. Archived from the original on July 13, 2019. Retrieved October 11, 2014.
  31. ^ Ernesto (October 9, 2014). "PopcornTime stops working after domain suspension". TorrentFreak. TF Publishing. Retrieved October 11, 2014.
  32. ^ Matt Burns. "Popcorn Time Finds A New Home After The EURid Pulled Its Domain". TechCrunch. AOL Inc. Retrieved October 14, 2014.
  33. ^ Matt Burns (May 13, 2014). "Popcorn Time : Popcorn Time Is Now On Android". AOL Inc. Retrieved May 13, 2014.
  34. ^ Steven Tweedie (June 9, 2014). "The 'Netflix For Pirated Movies' Has Figured Out A Way To Keep You Anonymous". Business Insider Inc. Retrieved June 10, 2014.
  35. ^ Mario Aguilar (July 7, 2014). "Popcorn Time's "Netflix for Torrents" Is Coming to Chromecast". Retrieved July 7, 2014.
  36. ^ Paul Sawers (July 14, 2014). "Hollywood's worst nightmare just got worse, as Popcorn Time's Android app gets Chromecast support". The Next Web Inc. Retrieved July 14, 2014.
  37. ^ Popcorn Time Adds Apple TV Support, iOS App Coming Soon TorrentFreak July 30, 2014
  38. ^ The 'Netflix For Pirated Movies' Will Soon Work With Your Apple TV by Steven Tweedie Business Insider July 30, 2014, 9:41 am
  39. ^ Matt Burns (September 30, 2014). "Popcorn Time Finally Comes To iOS". TechCrunch. AOL Inc. Retrieved November 9, 2014.
  40. ^ Greenberg, Andy (April 8, 2015). [ "How Popcorn Time's Piracy App Is Sneaking Onto iPhones"] Check |url= value (help). Wired. Wired. Retrieved May 12, 2020.
  41. ^ "Popcorn Time's Alive, Full Comeback In the Works - TorrentFreak". TorrentFreak. Retrieved 2016-02-23.
  43. ^ "Popcorn Time Chaos Leads to Shutdown - TorrentFreak". TorrentFreak. TorrentFreak. Retrieved 2015-10-25.
  44. ^ "MPAA shuts down major torrent sites, including Popcorn Time". Ars Technica. Retrieved 2015-11-25.
  45. ^ "MPAA-Hunted Popcorn Time Makes Surprise 'Comeback'". TorrentFreak. February 17, 2016.
  46. ^ "Popcorn Time Status".
  47. ^ Robertson, Adi (February 26, 2016). "Popcorn Time's best-known app comes back to life".
  48. ^ "Motion Picture Association of America" (PDF). November 3, 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 4, 2016.