Wait, is this app the new Netflix?
Netflix: our favorite thing to pair with sweatpants, pizza, and wine. It’s the best thing since sliced bread (actually, BETTER than sliced bread, IMHO).
Turns out our beloved Netflix has got some competition. There’s a new app out called Popcorn Time, which is a video streaming service that Wired calls “the piracy party Hollywood can’t stop.” Launched just over a year ago, Popcorn Time looks like it’s going to be the next big thing . . . if it’s not taken down by the law.
Popcorn Time is a torrenting service that has an interface much like Netflix. But what’s so special about that? “With typical torrent applications, you have to find and wait to download entire videos before watching,” according to Chris O’Brien from Venture Beat. “Not only does it clog up your hard drive, it can take a while depending on the number of peers sharing the video and your broadband speeds.”
That means it has all of the perks of torrenting with none of the drawbacks. You could argue it has a leg-up on Netflix, because it’s pretty much an unlimited selection, whereas Netflix is limited based on its deals with studios. Plus, Popcorn Time boasts a higher video quality. As a result, the app is being downloaded at a rate of approximately 100,000 users a day, not far behind Netflix’s 138,000 in the fourth quarter of 2014, according to O’Brien.
Wired chatted with one of the anonymous developers of the project, who is going under the pseudonym “Pochoclin” (after the company’s popcorn mascot, d’aw). According to Pochoclin, they had some legal troubles initially, when the Brussels domain registrar EURid revoked Popcorn Time’s website domain. Now, they’re at a Swedish domain, and they’re growing fast.
“[EURid’s domain seizure] was just a small setback . . . a small but painful kick to the balls,” Pochoclin told Wired. “We’ve grown this project tremendously since we picked it up. . .The numbers just keep rising.”
The craziest part? As of now, Popcorn Time is totally free. “We just did it for the love of this project,” Pochoclin told Wired. “It was something we believed in. And once it started taking off … as it did from the start, all the love that we were getting from Popcorn Time users made us just keep on going without really stopping to think where this road is taking us.”
So seriously, how can this be legal? “It’s all automated and all working on existing open source technologies and existing websites online. Therefore, it’s legal. Or better . . . not illegal,” Pochoclin told Wired. “We all live in a free society, where what is not forbidden is allowed.”
We’re not so sure that argument will hold water. An MPAA spokeperson pointed out in an e-mail to Wired that software like Napster and Limewire didn’t technically host content, either. . . and look what happened to them. And, as University of Richmond intellectual property law professor Jim Gibson pointed out to Wired, “If they know that they’re actually facilitating the downloading or streaming of copyrighted movies and they continue to do it, they’re in trouble.”
But according to Pochoclin, the developers of Popcorn Time are well aware of these legal threats, and they’re taking the necessary precautions to protect themselves, using peer-to-peer downloading technology.
In other words, according to Pochoclin, “Popcorn Time will be unstoppable.” We’re interested to see where this goes, but we’re a little doubtful, after the shutdown of other sites like The Pirate Bay. But TBH, for now, we’re just happy Netflix isn’t going anywhere.