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  1. The MPAA recently fired shots across the bows of Popcorn Time forks by having their projects removed from Github. But what if a bigger and more advanced project existed, one with impressive extra features and impossible to monitor downloads? Following a $500,000 investment last year, it seems Hollywood is leaving well alone. Popcorn Time was embraced by millions following its debut earlier this year, but what if there was a similar looking service providing additional features but with a small monthly price tag? Visually, TVShowTime is clean and tidy. It allows the tracking of TV shows and provides associated content on top of community and social networking features. It’s easy to use – click a series from the 40,000 in its databases and one can quickly begin tracking – and watching. After adding a show – we chose Game of Thrones – TVShow Time gave us a link to buy the first season on DVD from Amazon. Links also appeared to download the subtitles in a convenient zip file. Simultaneously a big ‘play’ button marked “watch episode” sat invitingly in the middle of the screen. With a click a new page appeared. As can be seen from the screenshot, TVShow Time provides two options. The first is a free service offering calender and subtitling downloads, plus links to buy the shows from official online sources including Netflix and iTunes. The second allows the viewer to sign up to a $7.99 a month subscription with torrent downloading service Put.io (TVShow Time is free). When this external account with Put.io is integrated with TVShow Time, users can access all their TV shows from BitTorrent networks in both 480p and 720p, and collect the resulting episodes from Put.io via HTTP download. Unlike standard Popcorn Time downloads, these are impossible for anti-piracy companies to monitor. The image below shows the first three already-filled-in torrent sources for Game of Thrones as directed by TVShow Time (Put.io remains a “dumb” service and only takes instruction from users). So, what we have here, at least on the surface, is a Popcorn Time-style interface on steroids with a small price tag attached for downloads. However, while Popcorn Time is being developed pretty much for free and is visible on the radar of the MPAA, TVShow Time sits very much at the opposite end of the financial spectrum. According to reports 1, 2, TVShow Time, which operates more or less like many other streaming or torrent-like indexes (with social networking features attached), is sitting on a $500,000 investment. (see update below) The people who put up the money are hardly lightweights either. They include Jean-David Blanc (Allociné), Deezer founder Daniel Marhely, and telecoms giant Xavier Niel, said to be worth in excess of $8 billion. The situation provides an interesting contrast. While the hobbyists behind the several Popcorn Time forks find themselves in the crosshairs of the MPAA, and amateur Swedish subtitlers get raided by the police, a company with serious investment can somehow offer similar functionality without incurring the wrath of the studios. But when potential rivals have this much influence, it’s probably easier to turn the other way – at least for now. Update: This article has been updated to correct an error – TVShow Time’s Antonio Pinto confirms investment last year amounted to “less than $500,000.” Source: TorrentFreak
  2. Popcorn Time, a cross-platform and BitTorrent-powered movie streaming app, may very well be Hollywood's worst nightmare. The software can be best described as a Netflix for pirates, allowing users to stream the latest blockbusters at no cost. TF talks to one of the developers to find out how the app came about. Over the years BitTorrent has become fairly mainstream, with hundreds of millions of people using torrent clients to download the latest entertainment. Despite its popularity the downloading process can be cumbersome at times, especially for novices. Faced with this challenge Sebastian, a designer from Buenos Aires, Argentina, decided to come up with a piece of software that would make the process as easy as Netflix. “As a designer I love the challenge of simplification. Take something hard for the common user and make it usable. I have a lot of friends who don’t understand torrents and I wanted to make it easy and effortless to use torrent technology,” Sebastian tells us. A few months of coding later “Popcorn Time” was born, a tool that allows users to stream popular movie torrents with the click of a button. Popcorn Time offers instant access to hundreds of films, in various qualities and complete with subtitles if needed. Popcorn Time What started out as an experiment for a group of friends soon developed into something much bigger. Popcorn Time now has 20 collaborators on Github and continues to expand at a rapid pace. Developers from all over the world have added new features and within 24 hours it was translated into six languages. Sebastian explains that Popcorn Time uses node-webkit and is available for Windows, Mac and Linux. It’s basically a browser that users HTML, CSS and JavaScript to serve the movie streams. “The technology behind the app is very simple. We consume a group of APIs, one for the torrents, another for the movie info, and another for the poster. We also have an API for the subtitles. Everything is automated, we don’t host anything, but take existing information and put it together,” Sebastian says The torrent files all come from YTS (formerly YIFY), which has an API Popcorn Time taps into. The application can search this database and allows users to stream the torrent on demand. When finished the app will continue to share for a while after the download is finished, to avoid leeching. Since Popcorn Time links to a lot of copyrighted movies, Hollywood is not going to be happy, but according to Sebastian the developers don’t expect any legal issues. They inform users that sharing copyrighted material is not allowed everywhere, and other than that they are just repackaging existing content, without a commercial angle. “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. It’s an experiment to learn and share,” Sebastian notes. All the people who work on the project are big movie fans themselves, and most have Netflix accounts. Sebastian believes that going to the cinema is the best way to experience a movie, but if people who want to enjoy a recent film at home they should be able to do so. This is often not the case, and that’s where Popcorn Time comes in. “We hate that we don’t have the chance to watch some movies at home. Popcorn Time is an experiment to show that you can do something better for the users, and that you can do it with BitTorrent,” Sebastian says. Popcorn Time is officially still in Beta, and will continue to improve in the weeks and month to come. However, one thing will never change, it will remain free and open source for as long as it exists. Source: TorrentFreak
  3. After the team behind the controversial Popcorn Time software called it quits, Kim Dotcom has weighed in on the debate ignited by the app. "Popcorn Time and countless similar applications show where the road ends for Hollywood," the Megaupload founder says. Last week Popcorn Time burst onto the scene, offering content to be found on dozens of other sites but sitting head and shoulders above the rest in simplicity and presentation. But after a dream start and dozens of news articles, it was all over. Pressure had been building within the project and rather than let things get completely out of hand, a decision was taken to move away. At the start of the weekend the Popcorn Time team called it quits and interest in the project expressed by a dev at YTS was later withdrawn by the site’s operator. Earlier in the week there had been other complications too, including the removal of the Popcorn Time installer from Mega.co.nz, the hosting service chosen by the software’s devs. So what did Kim Dotcom know about that? “I just woke up. No idea what happened,” Dotcom told TF at 03:50am local time Thursday. “I’m not involved in Mega’s day-to-day business since I resigned from Management to work on an alternative Internet concept called Meganet, Baboom and the Internet Party.” Days later we’re still no closer to discovering why the files were taken down, whether that was due to Mega’s own decision based on a ToS violation or if the hosting service was pressured by the MPAA. What is clear, however, is that Popcorn Time, the most elegant unofficial movie-viewing application of recent times, has underlined that the destruction of Mega did little to ease Hollywood’s plight. “I support innovation,” Dotcom told TF. “Popcorn Time and countless similar applications show where the road ends for Hollywood. Ultimately it’s a cat-and-mouse game Hollywood can’t win by force but only with smarter Internet offerings.” Interestingly, it seems that the people behind Popcorn Time actually understand where Dotcom is coming from. In a file-sharing world dominated by the likes of The Pirate Bay and KickassTorrents, Popcorn Time came along this week and took what XBMC has being doing for some time and amped it up to eleven. They took the same content being offered by everyone else and made it more accessible and desirable. Dotcom says this is what Hollywood should be doing, but instead their anti-piracy fixation remains. “The destruction of Megaupload did nothing for Hollywood. Piracy is bigger than ever, despite overreaching law enforcement action & efforts by the MPAA and Chris Dodd to buy aggressive copyright laws and treaties. Hollywood made a mistake when they hired a powerful former Senator to run the MPAA in an attempt to fix their Internet problems with a sledgehammer,” he adds. While Popcorn Time was hardly stealth with its public torrent sources and open source format, Dotcom says that the worst is yet to come. “The innovators of today are working on fully encrypted parallel Internets which don’t rely on IPs. They are fluid oceans of homeless data that can’t be controlled by anybody. I know of several projects that will make it extremely difficult for Hollywood. How do you take things down that can’t be taken down?” he questions. “Combine that with apps and sites that provide a no-takedown one-click high-speed content experience and Hollywood’s nightmare is complete.” The signs indeed point to things getting worse. This week TF spoke to a developer who told us that work is already underway to bring a Popcorn Time-style experience to smart TVs, showing that not only is innovation far from dead, but soon even the likes of The Pirate Bay will have to do something to catch up. According to Dotcom, however, there’s still time for Hollywood to properly open up. “It’s not to late for Hollywood to embrace the Internet and offer more appealing services than those unauthorized services out there. Within three years Hollywood could double global income with an ingenious new online content service I have created. It’s so good that International license holders of content would join this offering in a heartbeat. I have offered my help in an open letter to Hollywood some time ago. They still prefer the sledgehammer,” he says. “Hollywood has built a fortune on stories with happy endings, yet they don’t get it in the real world. The Internet has the potential to be the biggest happy ending for Hollywood – and I know how,” Dotcom concludes. Source: TorrentFreak
  4. Popcorn Time, the torrent-enabled Netflix-style streaming app all over the news this week, is currently unavailable for download. Previously hosted by Kim Dotcom's Mega, the company has now removed the controversial software. Is a rumored MPAA lawsuit really on the way, or will Popcorn Time live to see another day? After a decade of seemingly constant innovation in the public file-sharing space, the past few years have seen a relative decline in new ideas. This means that well presented and well thought out file-sharing solutions stand out a mile. One such tool, the recently unveiled Popcorn Time, ticks all the boxes. Based on BitTorrent technology, the software hides all the complexities away and presents high-quality video content to the user in a way familiar to any user of Netflix. Since piracy often drives the consumer solutions of the future, Popcorn Time’s elegance definitely warranted an article here on TF last weekend and in the days that followed dozens more appeared, all singing the praises of what is probably the most beautifully simple (yet unofficial) movie viewing solution of recent times. But despite the rave reviews, those looking to jump on the Popcorn Time bandwagon today will find themselves disappointed. Since its launch the software has been distributed via getpopcornti.me but the actual installer has been hosted as a public download (encryption key included) on Kim Dotcom’s Mega.co.nz. Today, however, all that came to a halt. Visitors to the previously published link are greeted by the following page. What we know for sure is that the developers didn’t delete their own file. Speaking with TF a few moments ago, a Popcorn Time dev team member said that the file had been removed by Mega. To try and find out more, TF contacted Kim Dotcom himself to see if he could shine some light on developments. At least for now (its night-time in New Zealand) Dotcom is maintaining radio silence. The entrepreneur certainly knows about the software. Yesterday he tweeted about TechCrunch’s coverage of the original TF article, alongside a note directed at the MPAA with a cheeky ‘wink’ emoticon at the end. Whether he was aware at the time that Mega.co.nz was hosting the software is unknown, but it’s unlikely the gesture would’ve been appreciated in Hollywood. “It’s strange, yesterday Kim Dotcom tweeted about us. He seemed ironic and happy. Bad luck he removed the link,” Popcorn Time’s Sebastian told TF. The big question is why Mega deleted the file. Thus far the MPAA hasn’t answered our questions on Popcorn Time, but the Popcorn Time team told us that they have been given a headsup that the MPAA is preparing a lawsuit to take the project down. Whether that is really the case remains to be seen, but a formal takedown demand to Mega would be a predictable prelude to a lawsuit, should the MPAA choose that route. So what now for the biggest app of the year so far? Obviously any lawsuit could hinder the software’s development but being open source, alternative routes could conceivably be found. That said, speaking off-the-record with someone else closely familiar with the project, TF has today learned that a plan had previously been put in place to strengthen distribution of Popcorn Time in a way that doesn’t involve relying on third-party hosting companies such as Mega. So, will Popcorn Time quickly return to poke Hollywood in the eye with its considerable beauty and simplicity, or are things about to get ugly? “We are discussing our next step,” Popcorn Time’s Sebastian informs TF. “This could be the end of Popcorn Time (not the community, its open source!) but maybe our goodbye as a team.” Update: Kim Dotcom wrote to us at 03:50 local time. Obviously the Mega offices are closed. “No idea what happened,” he told TF. “I’m not involved in Mega’s day-to-day business since I resigned from Management to work on an alternative Internet concept called Meganet, Baboom and the Internet Party.” We’ll post additional thoughts from Kim in the hours to come. Update: Strangely enough the installer is still available to MEGA users who are logged in to their account. Source: TorrentFreak
  5. A roller-coaster week for controversial movie application Popcorn Time hit a huge low last evening with the news that the creators of the software were throwing in the towel. Well people, not so fast. The people behind YTS (YIFY) inform TorrentFreak that they are taking over the project with immediate effect. Last Saturday TF reported on the now-controversial torrent streaming app Popcorn Time, a piece that was followed by dozens of mainstream articles in the week that followed. It quickly became evident that this software had broken new ground with its beauty and simplicity. Unsurprisingly, the first signs of trouble were not far away. During the middle of the week the software was removed from Mega.co.nz. It’s still unclear if that action was taken by Mega under its own steam or after it was prompted by Hollywood, but with the Popcorn Time developers confirming they had nothing to do with it, one or the other must be to blame. But after a stormy week, with the software receiving critical acclaim, last night the veils were being drawn over the project. In a long announcement on the tool’s website, the Popcorn Time team confirmed they were stepping down. “Popcorn Time is shutting down today. Not because we ran out of energy, commitment, focus or allies. But because we need to move on with our lives,” the team explained. “Our experiment has put us at the doors of endless debates about piracy 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.” The Argentina-based team added that piracy is not a people problem, it’s one based around service created by an industry that “portrays innovation as a threat to their antique recipe to collect value.” But just as another flood of articles hit the mainstream press, each waving goodbye to Popcorn Time before moving on to something else, there’s important news yet to report. Popcorn Time is not dead and will live on, seamlessly. Speaking with TorrentFreak, YTS (formerly YIFY-Torrents) developer Jduncanator has confirmed that Popcorn Time will not die with the withdrawal of its founding team. Instead, YTS will pick up the baton and run. “The YTS team will now be picking up the Popcorn Time project and continuing on like previously. We are in a better position copyright wise as for us, because it’s build on our API, it’s as if we have built another interface to our website. We are no worse off managing the project than we would be just supplying the movies,” the dev explains. “It’s our vision at YTS that we see through projects like these and that just because they create a little stir in the public, it doesn’t mean they are shut down. That stir is exactly what the public needs and it’s already evident that people are becoming more aware of copyright-related issues.” The project, which can now be found here, is open to all former developers who will be given contributor access upon request. The Popcorn Time installer will be made available shortly. UPDATE: Since our interview with the YTS developer, YTS have given us a new statement which effectively distances them from the Popcorn Time project. “Popcorn Time is a community driven project, not owned nor maintained by a single person or entity,” the site said. Source: TorrentFreak
  6. The Popcorn Time app brought easy downloading to the masses earlier this year, hiding its mechanics away under a sleek interface. However, its presentation led some users to believe that regular and 'safe' streaming technology was under the hood, an illusion recently shattered when they began to receive letters from copyright trolls. After taking the Internet by storm earlier this year, Popcorn Time needs very little introduction. The subject of dozens of news articles, this application massively simplifies the viewing of videos online via a Netflix-style interface. Even after several controversies, including the retirement of both the original team and the developers who subsequently took over the project, the software lives on in various forms. One of the more successful variants, known as Cuevana Storm, is less known in English-speaking regions since it’s presented in Spanish. However, several users in Germany are now dealing with issues arising from its use. Yesterday, German lawfirm GGR Law reported that three of its clients had received demands for cash settlements from the Waldorf Frommer law firm based on allegations of copyright infringement. However, during discussions all of the recipients insisted that they had never installed a BitTorrent client on their machines. Instead they had used only streaming services. The use of unauthorized streaming sites came to the forefront in Germany during December 2013 when users of the RedTube site suddenly started receiving settlement demands from the U & C lawfirm. That provoked a government announcement in January this year that viewing pirated streams is not illegal. So are these latest settlement demands for 815 euros each just another attempt at illegally extorting cash following legal stream views? Firstly and importantly, the letter recipients believed that the content in question had been accessed via streaming – certainly, nothing had been accessed via BitTorrent. However, this is where the confusion lies. While the interfaces of Cuevana Storm / Popcorn time give the impression of server-to-client streaming (like YouTube), both have BitTorrent under the hood. This means that while streaming video to the inbuilt player, content is also being uploaded to other users, just as it would in any regular BitTorrent swarm. “In the warnings from the Waldorf Frommer law firm, Cuevana.tv isn´t mentioned. Also it is not stated that this is a streaming warning letter,” GGR lawyer Tobias Röttger told TorrentFreak. “The warning letter is the classic standard file-sharing warning letter, which the law firm Waldorf Frommer has used for some time. The culprit was accused of uploading the file via BitTorrent. I suspect that Waldorf Frommer don´t know that the download was made over Cuevana.tv.” The above illustrates why it is extremely important for people to have at least a cursory understanding of how software on their machine operates. Streaming video server-to-client or server-to-web browser is either legal or at the least non-detectable in most Western countries. Uploading content to others without permission is generally illegal. For some the difference between the two will only be discovered after receiving a fine for hundreds or maybe thousands of dollars. Source: TorrentFreak
  7. If Popcorn Time shook things up, Zona is going to shake them apart. Not only does Zona look as good, if not better than Popcorn TIme, it streams tens of thousands of movies and TV shows plus millions of music tracks. Did we mention switchable audio languages, subtitles and permanent downloading? What about TV show subscription, plus live TV and radio from around the world? An Android version? Popcorn Time has had more than its fair share of press since it appeared earlier this year. The tale has enjoyed twists and turns in buckets, not to mention controversy and mystery. The software was undoubtedly a game changer and the most simple and elegant way of downloading and viewing content using torrents. Nothing came close. Except all along something else did – and then some. Let’s not take anything away from it, Popcorn Time is pretty neat, but the software just introduced to TorrentFreak goes much, much further. It’s called Zona and could very well ignite an even bigger storm. Zona hails from Russia but fear not, its 27mb installer appears in standard English. Getting the thing working is child’s play too, just make sure it’s being allowed through your firewall after setup. If users want it to become their standard torrent downloader that option is available too, but advanced users will probably prefer the flexibility of their regular client. Once setup is complete, users are presented with the following screen, movies up first. Much of the artwork depicted is pulled from Russian sources, so for non-speakers a reliance on movie covers will be required. If that fails, directly under each movie is the title in clear English. Click those titles and new page will appear, detailing everything people might want to know about the movie including its date of production, iMDb rating, genre, actors (including photos), runtime, and other sundry details. Here’s the page for the Creative Commons movie, Big Buck Bunny. When selecting a movie a choice can be made – to stream Popcorn Time-style, or to download to the PC like a regular torrent client. If the former is chosen there is a wait of between a few seconds and a minute while enough buffering takes place. The movie is first presented in a small non-intrusive window in the left corner of the app, but this can be expanded to any size, including full screen. Eagle-eyed viewers will note the ‘audio and subtitles’ text on the bottom right of the window above. This enables switching between English and often Russian audio, plus the toggling of various subtitles. While Popcorn Time was restricted to content indexed on YTS, Zona has no such limitation. The app appears to have access to many, many thousands of movies pulled from torrent sites around the web. It is not clear where, but random searches hardly ever fail to turn up the required content although sometimes playback can hesitate, possibly due to lack of seeds. That said, a database of 500,000 torrents should be more than enough. Zona is no slouch on the movie front, but it isn’t done yet. The software also caters to the TV fan and does it with never-seen-before flair. After selecting ‘TV’ from the list on the left, Zona presents TV shows in the same way as it does movies. However, when clicking through to the details screen one can see how it excels, with options to select any series and any episode. Since it’s topical, here’s how the page looks for Game of Thrones. Just below the recommended additional viewing graphics, one can see options to select a series and episode. Clicking on those brings up all of the sources, usefully filtered by video quality. Also on offer is a “subscription” feature, which allows people to subscribe to a series ‘Tivo-style’, leave the software running, and have the content appear when a new episode is released. Another trick up Zona’s sleeve is its ability to steam live TV from a selection of built in channels. While many are Russian, there are plenty of English language channels too. Covering everything from news, to light entertainment to documentaries, it’s also particularly strong in sport, with free access to UK premium channels including all Sky Sports and BT Sport channels. After ticking every box on the video front, Zona goes one step further by streaming music too. Users need to quickly sign up for a VK.com social networking account first, but after that almost every track one can think of will become available in the software. Conclusion Overall, it’s hard to fault Zona. It looks great and works nearly as well. There’s a huge range of content spanning movies, TV shows and music, and no other app that we’re aware of has as many options and features. It’s not open source, at least that we can see, so one up for Popcorn Time there. But it can stream to DLNA-enabled TVs, so that might balance things up a bit. Oh, and you can filter out the adult content if kids are around. We did mention it does porn as well, didn’t we? No? That means we probably forgot to mention the Android version too. Zona can be downloaded from its homepage, or directly here. Source: TorrentFreak
  8. After Popcorn Time's original creators abandoned the successful project, what kind of future does it have? To find out, TorrentFreak caught up with the groups behind today's two main versions. Both sound pretty dedicated and each has exciting news, including an imminent Android version and upcoming Chromecast support. Unless you’ve had an Internet outage lasting a month, news of the Popcorn Time app will have appeared on your screen on several occasions. It dramatically burst onto the scene in March and stirred up a huge controversy, but just a handful of weeks later it was abandoned by its creators. Being open source the project was easy for others to pick up but without the original GetPopCornTi.me URL it was always going to be difficult for new project leaders to immediately show they were the ‘real deal’. Nevertheless, today there are two main Popcorn Time replacements, both of which call themselves Popcorn Time. To get some clarity, TorrentFreak caught up with the people behind both projects to find out about their plans. For simplicity’s sake we’ll refer to them by their current URLs – popcorn-time.tv and time4popcorn.eu. Popcorn-Time.tv Popcorn-Time.tv’s website has the same look and feel as the original Popcorn Time and offers four version of the software – Windows and Mac plus Linux 32 and 64 bit. Everything is open source and the project page can be found on Github. So where did this group originate? “Our project started right after the original devs abandoned their project,” a Popcorn-Time.tv dev told TorrentFreak. “I happened to be working on a new feature on a fork at that moment. When the devs closed their project, people started asking what should be happening and I pointed them to my repository where I was working on fixing everything. I end up being the most-used fork after a few hours.” Shortly after another dev who had worked on the original Popcorn Time project agreed to merge his ongoing fork with what would soon become Popcorn-Time.tv. Together they released three new versions of Popcorn Time – 0.2.6, 0.2.7 and 0.2.8, the current version. “A few days ago, however, the other developer went missing, the main repository and its website were shutdown as well. So I then set up a new organization (popcorn-org) and a new website (popcorn-time.tv) to keep going,” the Popcorn-Time.tv dev explained. “In the general picture I would say we fit as the original Popcorn Time continuation. We haven’t added many features yet since we are working on getting everything more stable and usable by everyone. TV series and more are planned for the next month.” Popcorn-Time.tv also informs TF that work is underway to allow their software to save downloaded movies for later viewing and that an upcoming rewrite and release of version 0.3.0 in around two weeks will sport a new UI. Sneak preview: New Popcorn-Time UI Add Chromecast and multi-torrent tracker support on top and things are looking exciting for this version of the infamous software. Time4Popcorn.eu Although it has a similar feel, Time4Popcorn.eu’s website differs slightly from the original. It is less complex and carries just a single version (Windows) of the Popcorn Time software. Which version isn’t clear since its been repackaged by the site and currently the source is private. However, speaking with TF the Time4Popcorn.eu team made it clear they have big plans, both on the feature front and in transparency terms. “We are all Popcorn Time users, and when the original project was taken down it was clear to us that we would not let this technology die, and without hesitation we took the files and put them online for download,” Time4Popcorn.eu explain. “The great response from the users and the amount of downloads a day made us very excited and we decided to invest our time in improving and preserving Popcorn Time.” The people behind this version say they are the owners of file-sharing websites with millions of visitors a day. With their experience they want to ensure Popcorn Time stays online “forever.” “Our knowledge in that field will help us to better understand what the users want and need to enjoy more of Popcorn Time,” they add. So what next for Time4Popcorn.eu? Big things, apparently, including an imminent mobile version. “At this very moment, we are working around the clock on the Android version of Popcorn Time and hoping to release it in the next two weeks,” the team reveal. And, for those worried about the current closed-source, things will change on that front too. Once the mobile version is complete the source code will be published on Github and the community will be invited to help with its development. “We will also publish our brand new release of the desktop version that will include seeding of the downloaded torrent (the current version does not seed the torrent!), a much faster torrent client and a new video player that will give us the ability to show not only MP4 videos, but all kinds of video formats that will increase the amounts of available torrents,” they add. The team says that this version will also go open source on the day of release. “For now, we are not doing anything besides staying up all night and developing this great app,” they conclude. Conclusion Having more than one version of one piece of software is certainly not ideal since it’s confusing for users, but at the moment the versions detailed above appear to be key to keeping the Popcorn Time dream alive. Which will win the battle (if they even see it that way) remains to be seen, but of course there’s aways a chance that a merger could be on the cards, if minds meet at the appropriate moment. Source: TorrentFreak
  9. Popcorn Time was one of the most-discussed topics last month with contributors happy to chat and bathe in the publicity. Recently though, something has changed. Previously talkative developers have deleted their work, gone silent, disappeared, or all of the above. It's hard not to draw the obvious conclusion. The Popcorn Time phenomenon hardly needs an introduction but it’s safe to say this application really shook things up after its launch in March. In a nutshell, Popcorn Time delivered no new content whatsoever. What it did present was existing movies in an incredibly simple and elegant way, making it an extremely attractive proposition to file-sharing veterans and newcomers alike. But very quickly the honeymoon period was over. In mid-March the original developers said they would cease their operations. “Popcorn Time is shutting down today. Not because we ran out of energy, commitment, focus or allies. But because we need to move on with our lives,” they announced. “Our experiment has put us at the doors of endless debates about piracy 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.” It has proven impossible to get definitive proof as to who was behind the legal threats, since no one wants to talk either on or off the record. However, if one adds two and two (while calling on history) all fingers point to the owners of the content Popcorn Time exploits – Hollywood. Since it was open source, Popcorn Time had the strength to recover and it didn’t take long for numerous alternative forks of the popular software began to appear. The first main contender was created by a developer from YTS/YIFY, although it later transpired that it would be a lone project rather than one backed by the site. It continued for a while with several supporting contributors, including some who had worked on the original project. Then, after releasing a new version of the client in late March, things got strange. Suddenly the app was deleted from its Github repository and a previously very enthusiastic developer went completely silent. From being super-chatty, not a single email or instant message was returned. Something had definitely changed. People don’t flip like that in a matter of a few hours unless there has been some kind of event. Information subsequently received by TF that everything was absolutely fine and normal simply did not match reality. In the weeks that followed, TorrentFreak chatted with other developers, each working on their own version of the software. The main developer behind Popcorn-Time.tv told us that he’d created his site after the one detailed above had disappeared. “A few days ago..[..]..the other developer went missing, the main repository and its website were shutdown as well,” he explained. Then, just a few days after setting up to replace a mysteriously discontinued fork of Popcorn Time, this new developer also had a dramatic change of heart. Suddenly his version of Popcorn Time also disappeared from Github. He followed the first guy and dropped off the radar. Efforts at contact failed. Emails from TorrentFreak went unanswered. Then, a day ago, there was a surprise reappearance in a discussion thread on Reddit. “All you need to know is that I’m still alive and moved on to others projects,” he wrote. “I can’t really tell you anything more than that and I won’t contribute anymore to popcorn-time.” Somewhere in the middle of all this we were contacted by another developer of yet another fork of Popcorn Time. Just like the others, he approached us with much enthusiasm. Then, just a couple of days later, he too had gone, with rapid email exchanges being replaced by complete silence. We have no definite proof as to what has caused all of these developers to close down their work and refuse to talk, but the circumstances are suspicious to say the least. What they all had in common was their talent, enthusiasm, eloquence and a willingness to push their projects forward. They were all happy to talk too, then all of a sudden no one wanted to say anything. Why everything should change almost overnight may never be officially revealed, but if it walks like a duck…. Source: TorrentFreak
  10. Flixtor, a popular Popcorn Time-inspired movie streaming application, has shut down after an investigator from the MPAA's Motion Picture Association Canada showed up on the developer's doorstep. The torrent search engine TorrentLookup.com, which was maintained by the same team, was also pulled offline voluntarily. This weekend the website of the movie torrent streaming application Flixtor suddenly went offline, and the same happened to search engine TorrentLookup.com. Both projects were run by the same team, which is based in Canada, and were slowly but steadily expanding their user bases. This suddenly changed a few days ago when a message posted on both sites announced that the streaming app and search engine were being discontinued. “We voluntarily decided to close all services of torrentlookup.com. Thanks to everybody that used Flixtor and bought the mobile version. We have reached the finish line,” a message now displays on both sites. The decision came as a total surprise to users of the site and app. Flixtor, a custom-built Popcorn Time alternative based on the same Peerflix engine, was just a few weeks old. The Flixtor app had a user interface similar to Popcorn Time, but was not a fork. Instead, it used its own code and the movies/series API from TorrentLookup.com, which claimed to have the latest releases faster. Flixtor TorrentFreak got in touch with one of the developers, who informed us that the decision to close was the result of movie industry pressure. The developer in question had an investigator from the MPAA-funded Motion Picture Association Canada come by his house, and it didn’t stop there. “They were annoying me with phone calls repeatedly, and I talked to them quite a few times,” the developer explained. The movie industry group only had one goal, and that was to shut down the streaming application and the torrent site. The investigator threatened the developer with legal action if he refused to comply. “They wanted me to close Flixtor/Torrentlookup and then they would drop the charges against me, which are $20,000 per copyrighted file,” the developer told us. With the threat of a massive lawsuit on their shoulders, the people behind the two projects decided to pull the plug this weekend. Even if they wanted to, they lack the funds to properly defend themselves in court. The above shows that, behind the scenes, a lot of pressure is being put on the people who operate torrent sites and related services. It may also explain why some sites simply disappear, or why some of the “Popcorn Time” developers ceased their activities. TorrentFreak contacted the Motion Picture Association Canada for a comment yesterday, but at the time of publication we were yet to receive a response. Source: TorrentFreak
  11. Popcorn Time for movies really shook things up earlier this year, so a comparable product for free music would also be huge, right? Well actually one exists already but it's just not having the same kind of impact. While pirates once easily had the upper hand with music, competing with legal services is getting harder. At this very moment, anyone with a keyboard and access to the Internet can listen to pretty much any track currently available. Much to the annoyance of the music industry, most of that music can be found with a simple Google search and if it’s already been deleted from there, switching to Yahoo does the trick. Hundreds of sites lie a click away, many offering access to millions of free MP3s. While there’s no doubt that plenty of people use them, there’s no absolute need to access music from unauthorized sources anymore, even if the listener is payment averse. YouTube, for example, works very well indeed, even for the biggest selling tracks. The story for movies is quite different. Sure, there are unauthorized services a few clicks away but even the hottest torrent sites represent a daunting prospect for Joe Public. Streaming sites bridge the usability gap somewhat with their advanced presentation and simple interfaces but often spoil the viewing experience with waves of popups, fake download buttons and other intrusive advertising. Then earlier this year Popcorn Time arrived, offering the power of torrents under the hood and a Netflix-style quality interface on top. Unlike its legal competitor, however, the latest spinoff versions of the software have no restrictions on content availability. When all the angles are considered, this software pretty much beats the professionals at their own game – no wonder Hollywood wants to kill it. It was with excitement, then, that news of a “Popcorn Time for music” reached our ears recently. Called HipHop, the tool has actually been out for a number of weeks already but recently received renewed exposure on Hacker News. The tool has a decent interface and boasts free access to 45 million tracks, that’s better than iTunes and most of the official streaming services around today. So where are the dozens of news articles charting HipHop’s rise to fame in the way they did with Popcorn Time? Thing is, apart from a token mention here and there, there aren’t any. This isn’t because people don’t like music or that HipHop doesn’t do what it claims, because it does. Maybe it’s because free access to music and music alone simply doesn’t cut it these days. While pirates have run rings around Hollywood for some time and in some ways continue to do so, in the music sector services like Spotify and even YouTube are doing a much better job than the majority of mainstream pirate alternatives. Sure, anyone can head over to MP3Skull, MP3Juices or GoSong and grab free MP3s all day, but aren’t we demanding more these days? YouTube provides not only the music but the videos to accompany them. Spotify provides great content discovery opportunities, unrivaled multi-device convenience and is completely free at entry level. It’s been in development for years and it performs better than HipHop in every way. It’s competing with free and winning. While a Popcorn Time or similar for movies is likely to prove attractive for many years to come due to Hollywood’s archaic release restrictions and unfriendly pricing, pirates are really going to have to up their game to make a Spotify beater for music. While someone might appear with something amazing, at this point we have to consider that it might never happen. That in itself is quite extraordinary. Source: TorrentFreak
  12. One of the Popcorn Time forks has included a free VPN option in its software, allowing users to hide their IP-addresses from the public, This feature is a response to copyright trolls, who regularly send settlement requests to users who pirate movies via BitTorrent. The Popcorn Time phenomenon took the Internet by storm earlier this year. The software became the subject of hundreds of news articles, as it offered P2P streaming in an easy to use Netflix-style interface. Overwhelmed by the response the original team quickly retired. However, since the code is open source, many competing forks quickly adopted the project, each taking it in a different direction. Time4Popcorn is one of the most users reincarnations of Popcorn Time. The team behind the project has introduced several new features to their version, including TV-show listings and Android support. These changes definitely increased the appeal of the application, but there was a threat lurking around the corner. In common with all other BitTorrent-based software, copyright holders are actively monitoring the activities of people who pirate their works. This already resulted in fines for German users of a Popcorn Time fork, but users in the United States and other regions where copyright trolls are active face the same risk. To counter this “threat” the Time4Popcorn team decided to implement a VPN feature, for free. “Throughout these last months we realized that making the ultimate watching experience for everyone is important. However, something that is even more important to us is that everyone will be able to get this experience without risking themselves,” the Time4Popcorn team tells TorrentFreak. The news about the settlement requests prompted the developers to include a VPN option to anonymize use of their client. This week the feature was added to the latest 4.2 Alpha release. By clicking a lock icon users can quickly connect and disconnect the built-in protection. Although it may take some more time before a stream starts playing, it appears to work just fine. “Thanks to the new VPN feature everyone from anywhere in the world will be able to use Popcorn Time, worry free. That makes us very happy,” the team tells us. The VPN itself is not run by the Popcorn Time team. Instead, they came to an agreement with the VPN provider Kebrum, who are offering their services for free. TorrentFreak reached out to Kebrum to find out why they agreed to join the project. “There are not a lot of opportunities in life to be a part of a revolution and we have recognized this opportunity. One of the main goals of the company is to bring back the anonymity to the internet,” Kebrum’s Martin tells us. “We believe Popcorn Time is the revolution that will change the entertainment industry forever. And now, with our help, Popcorn Time can do for the world of internet anonymity the same as they will do for the world of entertainment.” This revolution does come at a cost for the company, as it has to pick up the bills. However, Kebrum believes that the brand exposure will make up for this investment. The traffic shouldn’t be a problem for the company, as it has plenty of resources available. “From our experience and the expected usage stats provided by Popcorn Time, we believe that the resources we allocated for Popcorn Time users should be enough in order to give a good and fast download experience. Our servers are prepared to handle the traffic,” Martin says. As with all other features, the VPN functionality is released as open source under a GPL-V3 license. The Time4Popcorn team plans to inform its users about the new VPN feature in the coming days, and once it’s included in the stable release older versions will update automatically. Source: TorrentFreak
  13. When the Popcorn Time app brought BitTorrent streaming to the masses this year the "Netflix for pirates" gained the hearts of millions. Today, one of the most popular Popcorn Time forks continues to innovate by adding Airplay support, and a native iOS app is coming soon. The Popcorn Time phenomenon is one of the biggest piracy stories of the year thus far. The software became an instant hit by offering BitTorrent-powered streaming in an easy-to-use Netflix-style interface. While the original app was shut down by the developers after a few weeks, the project was quickly picked up by others. This resulted in several popular forks that have gained millions of users in recent months. Today one of the most popular Popcorn Time forks releases a highly anticipated feature. The developers inform TorrentFreak that the latest version now has Airplay support, making it possible to stream movies directly to Apple TVs and other supported devices. Ironically, Airplay support is currently limited to the Windows release, but a Mac version is due early next week and the Linux release will follow shortly after. The latest feature follows the addition of Chromecast support a few weeks ago, but this is by no means the last planned development. Popcorn Time adds Airplay support Looking ahead the developers hope to bring the Popcorn Time experience to as many operating systems and devices as possible. “Our ultimate goal is to bring Popcorn Time to every platform, operating system and device that can play videos, so Airplay is one particle of a huge revolution we’re making to the torrents and movies world online,” the time4popcorn.eu team told us. “This is only the beginning… You know us, we have many more surprises coming your way,” they add. One of the “surprises” is a native iOS app. Although it probably won’t be featured in Apple’s App Store anytime soon, Popcorn Time will be available on jailbroken iPhones and iPads in the near future. “Support for iOS devices will be ready in August. It’s already working in our development environment and it’s looking beautiful,” the team notes. Popcorn Time’s popularity hasn’t gone unnoticed by Hollywood. A few weeks ago the MPAA pushed back and managed to get two popular forks removed from Github claiming that the apps are hurting the major movie studios. While this was a setback, it doesn’t seem to have hindered development much. Both Popcorn Time forks are still around and new features are being rolled out faster than ever. Source: TorrentFreak
  14. The Popcorn Time app brought BitTorrent streaming to the masses and despite early setbacks the "Netflix for pirates" appears to be here to stay. One of the most popular Popcorn Time forks currently has millions of users and is downloaded tens of thousands of time a day. The Popcorn Time phenomenon took the Internet by storm earlier this year. The software became the subject of hundreds of news articles by offering P2P streaming in an easy to use Netflix-style interface. Overwhelmed by the response and the legal pressure that came with it the original team quickly retired. However, since the code is open source, many competing forks quickly adopted the project, each taking it in a different direction. The storm calmed down somewhat after a few months, but it appears that the “Netflix for pirates” idea is here to stay. TorrentFreak reached out to one of the most popular Popcorn Time forks at time4popcorn.eu to find out how they are faring. While the developers are hesitant to reveal any hard data about their software’s popularity, they note that they have acquired millions of users over the past several months. On an average day tens of thousands of people download the application, with Sunday being the most popular day by far. The developers further reveal that roughly half of all Popcorn Time downloads are for the Windows platform. The Mac version is in second place with 25%, followed by Android and Linux with 20% and 5% respectively. For the developers this popularity is one of the main reasons to continue innovating through new features. For example, last month they integrated a free VPN so users can hide their IP-address from the rest of the world. “The million of users are the wind in our sails. We tell this to them all the time – they are the reason we’re putting in all the hard we’ve been putting in for the past 3.5 months,” the Time4Popcorn team tells TorrentFreak. “In none of our previous projects did we experience this kind of ‘madness’. This is really what keeps us working around the clock on this project,” they add. This week the Popcorn Time variant released another highly anticipated feature in their latest Alpha release, support for Chromecast. This means that users can now stream films directly to Chromecast with just a simple click. Chromecast support was one of the most requested Popcorn Time features, the developers told us. It’s also directly in line with one of the main goals of the software, which is creating an optimal viewing experience. “The first goal for Popcorn Time is to make the best viewing experience for all our users, and the other is to make the safest watching experience so all our users can fulfill the first goal without getting in trouble,” the Time4Popcorn team says. While Chromecast support is a milestone, the developers mention that there is more exiting news ahead in the not too distant future. “This week’s Alpha release with Chromecast support is nothing compared to what we have coming,” we were told. Stay tuned… Source: TorrentFreak
  15. TorrenTV is a cross-platform movie streaming app that allows people to stream torrents directly to Apple TV. The open source application has a simple drag and drop torrent interface and also supports streaming of previously downloaded videos. Earlier this year Popcorn Time made headlines all over the Internet as one of the first apps to combine a simple and stylish user interface with an effective way to stream torrents. The application also inspired dozens of developers to start their own spinoffs. While most of these apps mimicked the looks and functionality of the original application, TorrenTV offers something completely different. Instead of providing a Netflix-style index of movies, TorrenTV allows people to add their own torrents and stream these directly to an Apple TV. “Popcorn Time is beautiful in code and in looks but I wanted to do two things that PopcornTime didn’t allow me, watch movies directly on my TV and add new torrents which Popcorn Time doesn’t have yet,” TorrenTV developer Carlos tells TorrentFreak. Carlos started coding and a few weeks later TorrenTV was born. The application works by simply dropping a torrent or magnet link into it. The video file starts downloading and via Airplay it can be streamed directly to an Apple TV. TorrenTV for Linux, Mac and Windows TorrenTV uses Popcorn Time code and is built on the same Peerflix and torrent-stream libraries. There are plans to extend its functionality by adding Chromecast and Roku support in the future, but its simplicity will remain. One of the main differences compared to Popcorn time is that TorrenTV doesn’t offer an index of movies. This may be a downside for some, but according to Carlos this is an advantage. With no index of pirated content it can’t be taken down by the MPAA, which happened to Popcorn Time a few weeks ago. For those who are interested in taking it for a spin, TorrenTV is available for Mac, Windows and Linux and can be downloaded from the official site. Source: TorrentFreak
  16. GitHub has just removed the repositories of several popular Popcorn Time applications. The action was taken in response to a takedown request sent by the MPAA. Whether this will do anything to stop people from using the "Netflix for pirates" has yet to be seen. The Popcorn Time phenomenon is one of the biggest piracy stories of the year thus far. The software became an instant hit by offering BitTorrent-powered streaming in an easy to use Netflix-style interface. Needless to say this has been a thorn in the side for Hollywood. Today the MPAA decided to deploy countermeasures by filing requests with development platform GitHub to take down several Popcorn Time related repositories. “We are writing to notify you of, and request your assistance in addressing the extensive copyright infringement of motion pictures and television shows that is occurring by virtue of the operation and further development of the GitHub projects Popcorn Time, and Time4Popcorn,” the MPAA writes in its takedown notice. GitHub swiftly complied and starting a few hours ago the repositories were absent from the website, leaving the following note. Popcorn Time removed In its takedown notice the MPAA specifically targets the “popcorn-official” and the “time4popcorn” projects, but it also urges GitHub to remove all related forks. “By this notification, we are asking for your immediate assistance in stopping your users’ unauthorized activity. Specifically, we request that you remove or disable access to the infringing Projects’ repositories and all related forks,” MPAA writes. Interestingly, the MPAA doesn’t mention the original Popcorn Time repository, which remains intact. To prove the infringing nature of Popcorn Time the takedown notice was accompanied by several screenshots of the user interface, as well as several pirated copies of Hollywood movies playing. While the takedown notices may hinder the development of the software, at least temporarily, the websites of the forks remain online. This means that the applications themselves are still available for download. Earlier this week the team behind the Time4Popcorn fork informed us that they have gathered millions of users over the past several months, and that the application is being downloaded tens of thousands of times per day. Whether the MPAA also has plans to target the Popcorn Time fork websites remains to be seen. Source: TorrentFreak
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