Popcorn Time: Another Way To Access Media?

March 12, 2014
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Well, we all knew the digital age was going to change the way we receive our audiovisual entertainment. One of the main consequences is the ease with which material can be recorded and then put out there for public consumption without having to pay for it.

Now, we’re not going to get into a deep argument here about piracy. I can generally see both sides of a story. While I disagree with downloading a movie while it’s still on at the cinema – where movies should be seen – I think a lot could be done to make cinemas cheaper. When those movies hit the DVD stands, well, a lot could be done to make those cheaper too, if you want folk to fork out.

I also have a hard time swallowing the complaints from TV execs worried about what streaming might do to their precious DVD box sales. Watching series online is like watching it on TV. If it’s any good, I WILL buy the box set. If it isn’t, I’ll ignore it for the rest of my existence and that’s that.

Popcorn Time

Anyway, most of us have, do and will continue to download the odd movie here and there but nowadays even downloading is losing its edge when you can basically just stream what you want when you want it. Why take up space in your apartment with movies you might watch once every two or three years when everything can be stored in a virtual cloud somewhere?

Keying in to this new digital entertainment zeitgeist is Popcorn Time (PT), a movie-streaming site that TechCrunch describes as being “like Netflix for pirated content”. Now, again, where I can concede that making brand new, still-in-the-cinema movies readily available for free is perhaps pushing it a bit, having access to a huge catalog of classic – and not so classic – movies from years gone by is pretty damn cool.

PT, an open source program, does this by streaming torrents, the files people generally download, and is currently in beta format and available for Windows 7, OS X 10.7 and Linux. Users don’t need any special network configuration to get PT working; all they need do is install it.

“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,” a Popcorn Time developer told TorrentFreak.

The potential problem, especially as far as the Hollywood industry is concerned, is just how easy PT makes it to pirate movies. So the people behind PT can probably expect to hear from a few lawyers in the not too distant future. However all that legal wrangling turns out, Popcorn Time, as we stated before, has knows the modern zeitgeist; it understands how people want to access their media – in a word, instantaneously. Given that sense of desired immediacy – an immediacy which Netflix, and to some extent Amazon, understands also, albeit on a level constrained by the concept of legality – perhaps PT ought to call itself Microwave Popcorn Time instead.

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