Popcorn Time Returns Despite MPAA Shutdown

The most popular fork of Popcorn Time, which was subject to a shutdown by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), has announced its return, using the new Project Butter streaming platform. The use of Project Butter to revive Popcorn Time is ironic, since the app was developed as a ‘legal’ alternative, free of copyrighted content.

The rejuvenated Popcorn Time fork was the one associated with PopcornTime.io, which was closed in October 2015 following a lawsuit filed against the Canadian developers by the MPAA. The fall of the PopcornTime.io fork triggered a cascade which caused a number of other forks and contributors to fall away.

Last week, though, those with the Popcorn Time software still installed received a notification. Just two words: “Hail Hydra”. Soon after, Popcorn Time appeared to be working again. Now, the team behind the resurrection have officially confirmed its return in a blog post. The team responsible, who understandably wish to remain anonymous, is thought be different to the original Canadian developers who were targeted by the MPAA, but were associated with Popcorn Time in some capacity, though using the Project Butter software built by the Canadian team:

“After the “MPAA incident”, we’re a little diminished, and we’ve chosen a new direction: we’re shifting from an active development of Popcorn Time to a more or less resilience-driven development. We will keep an eye on the bug tracker (Github) and fix the most urgent ones, but you have to understand, once more, that we are a community offering an application for those without access to a real Streaming platform and a real catalog, for free, without ads

The last four months have been chaotic. We’ve seem [sic] some forks keeping up the good work and others who just wanted to attract users into a trap of adwares & malwares. We would like to take a moment to thank the Reddit Community for taking things over while we were in standby.”

 

Popcorn Time to be Revived in the Browser

Popcorn time has been blocked, banned and taken down over copyright issues a number of times. It seems that the popular movie streaming service just refuses to die. Despite the seizure of its popcorntime.io site by the MPAA, Popcorn Time is set to return as Popcorn Time Online. It claims to offer all of the functionality and features that made the original Popcorn Time widely used, this time, delivered directly to the browser.

This new revival of Popcorn Time will also be fully open source, explaining on their blog that it makes use of the new Torrents Time technology in order to deliver its real-time streamed movies via torrents. This means that even should the main site hosting the Popcorn Time Online service be taken down, it would be incredibly easy for anyone with the technical skill to set up a web server to deploy a fully functional version of the streaming site on their own server or PC.

Popcorn Time Online even finds space to add some new features to their service, firstly allowing true streaming of torrents that were previously incompatible thanks to Torrent Time. Other new additions include support for multiple languages, higher quality video streaming than ever before and even the ability to stream to Chromecast, Airplay, and DLNA with subtitles, right from the website.

While the original creators or Popcorn Time are hard at work on Project Butter, a Popcorn Time derived service only providing non-copyrighted content, it will be interesting to see how that unfolds compared to the new release of Popcorn Time Online. It is anyone’s guess how long this rendition of the service will remain available and whether the MPAA will truly be able to shut it down due to its open source nature. For those avid users of the original, this new service will surely be appreciated, but the legal battle surrounding such services will definitely rage on.

Popcorn Time Ramps Up For Full Comeback

When the main fork of popular torrent video-on-demand app Popcorn Time closed in October, citing legal issues and splits within the development team, many suspected that the so-called “Netflix for pirates” was a goner.

But it seems that reports of Popcorn Time’s demise has been greatly exaggerated, with the developers releasing a new version of the platform, utilising new APIs to display content – and replacing the now-defunct YTS with TorrentsAPI as its movie provider – via reddit.

The new Popcorn Time also features a new VPN service to protect users and bypass countrywide blocks on sources used by the streaming app. VPN.ht is owned by Wally, who just happens to be the head developer for Popcorn Time. Wally told TorrentFreak that, by pairing the two programs, he could envision a fully functional Popcorn Time again very soon.

“I am still considering a full comeback, I just do not want to release a half working version,” Wally said.

While Popcorn Time allows users to view copyrighted content for free, Wally sees the service not as opportunist theft but instead as a lesson to Hollywood as to what film lovers want and how to give it to them. “The popularity of Popcorn Time should be an example for the MPAA to a build a future streaming platform that will be open to the entire world,” Wally asserts.

YTS Closure Down to Deal Struck With Hollywood

YTS, the website that was home to the infamous YIFY torrents, closed for good last week, calling time on years of good quality, low file size HD pirated movies. YIFY, which was the primary source of content for popular pirate streaming app Popcorn Time, nor YTS revealed what had motivated its decision to cease operation, but it has now been revealed that the team responsible agreed to the closure in a deal with the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) in order to escape prosecution.

YTS was under legal pressure from the MPAA, as confirmed by its Chairman Christopher J. Dodd last week. “This coordinated legal action is part of a larger comprehensive approach being taken by the MPAA and its international affiliates to combat content theft,” Dodd said.

In response to legal action, the unnamed 21-year-old behind YTS – said to be a citizen of New Zealand, much like Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom, who could face prison for similar deeds – signed a private settlement deal with the MPAA to close down the site and cease producing YIFY torrents in order to escape jail time, according to TorrentFreak. The YTS.to domain name was later signed over to the MPAA.

Given the similarities between the legal infringements by YTS and the on-going prosecution of Kim Dotcom, the German entrepreneur is understandably aggrieved by what he calls “a double standard”.

“I think our case has chilled law enforcement and Hollywood against pursuing the criminal route in cases such as this. Quick civil settlements seem to be the new way to go,” Dotcom told TorrentFreak.

Image courtesy of CurrentlyDown.

Torrent Favourites YIFY and YTS Are Permanently Shut Down

YIFY, one of the most popular torrent uploaders in the world, and its respective website YTS have been permanently shut down, according to TorrentFreak. YTS has been down for over a week, sparking concerns that it may not return, and trusted sources close to the matter have informed TorrentFreak that, indeed, YIFY and YTS are no more.

“Today we can report that this reign has come to an end. YIFY and YTS have shutdown permanently, as predicted earlier this week,” writes TorrentFreak. It adds, “TF has received additional explanatory details from trusted sources, but we have been asked not to reveal all of the information just yet. However, our sources confirm without doubt that the shutdown is permanent.”

YTS.to would regularly hit one million unique visitors a day, showcasing the latest in 1080p and 720p Blu-Ray rips. In an interview with TorrentFreak two years ago, YIFY put its popularity down to its consistency, low file size, and attention to detail, adding, “I believe this is important because people like stability and assurance with what they are downloading. By adding consistency to a reasonable file-size, we have filled a spot in the community, which seemingly has a lot of demand.”

YIFY was a primary source of movies for “Netflix for pirates” app Popcorn Time, which has been experiencing problems of its own.

Image courtesy of CurrentlyDown.

Popcorn Time Returns as Copyrighted Content-Free Project Butter

With Popcorn Time going offline at the start of this week, amid legal issues and the subsequent split of its coding team, many feared that the “Netflix for pirates” streaming app had been permanently canned. However, the remaining creators have returned, launching the closely-related steaming platform, Project Butter. But there’s a catch: the new app is “stripped down of the parts [sic] that made people wary,” according to the team, which effectively means that it is entirely free of copyrighted content.

‘So, what’s the point?’ you may ask. While Project Butter has removed all links to copyrighted material, the program still has the facility to stream content from torrent sites. Effectively, Project Butter is a ‘create your own Popcorn Time’ app. So, while the team does not endorse streaming illegal torrents, it does not prevent the user from employing its streaming engine for that purpose. Popcorn Time, which will remain available, will also be based around Project Butter. It is not yet clear if this means copyrighted material will be removed from Popcorn Time, too.

The announcement post for Project Butter has disappeared for some reason, but The Next Web managed to grab part of it before it went down:

This new project, hosted on GitHub, is basically your beloved Popcorn Time stipped down of the parts that made people wary. Butter is created so that anyone can contribute to great desktop and mobile apps that allows to stream movies and shows from Bittorrent (and other sources, but more on that later) in a stylish and easy way.

We hope to clear doubts in developers so that we can continue doing what we love: hacking a great experience for our users.

Butter will be able to leverage all of the traditional Open Source internet infrastructure: it will have its own webpage at https://butterproject.org[2] , its own twitter account @butterproject, its own facebook athttps://fb.me/ButterProjectOrg[3] and its own G+ herehttps://plus.google.com/communities/111003619134556931561[4] . We are making sure butter is absolutely not using the popcorntime.io infrastructure to make a clear separation of concerns.

We’re making Butter like any Open Source project: open governance by the contributors and easy to fork. Planing on making a Popcorn Time clone ? don’t do it from scratch use some Butter to make it awesome !

Not only an empty shell, we want to make Butter a great App if you want to stream independent cinema and tv shows. Right now all the content in Butter is provided by the amazing people at vodo.net but if you know of any other sources of this kind of content please send us an email or better yet some code !

In a few days we should even have some binaries for you to try out !

Don’t worry, https://PopcornTime.io[5] will continue exactly as if nothing happened, it will still be Open Source, the code will still be hosted on our private Gitlab at https://git.popcorntime.io[6] and most importantly it will still have Pochoclin as a mascot and logo.

Only that now it will now be based on Butter, so it’s basically the same Popcorn Time you’ve learned to love but with this amazing new butter touch.

What about the mobile Apps ?

The Apps teams are working at this very moment to get you the experience you love in Butter format. As it’s a fair amount of work to clean them up, we could use some help ! have skills ? want to give a hand ? don’t hesitate in contacting us !

So what’s next ?

Over the next few days we’re going to finish porting all branches from the Popcorn Time git to the Butter repos on Github, you can give us a hand or sit back and relax as history is happening.

See you soon with more Buttered Popcorn Time for you folks!

The constituent parts for Project Butter are available on GitHub now, though not in binary form yet.

Image courtesy of Mashable.

Hollywood is to Blame for the Popularity of Popcorn Time

Hollywood is in the midst of an aggressive assault against “Netflix for pirates” movie streaming app Popcorn Time and its users, but the owners of Popcorn Time insists that its VOD service isn’t the problem, Hollywood’s lack of legal rival is. In a statement to TorrentFreak, the Popcorn Time team argues that the US film industry is suffering a problem of its own making, born out of a combination of greed and ignorance of the digital market.

“People are ready to pay a fee, but a lot of them currently refuse to pay for a petty catalog with country-specific restrictions,” says the Popcorn Time team. “The price can also be a hurdle for some people: $20 a month is not the same in Uganda and the United States. But obviously, the most problematic issue is the complete lack of legal availability in some places.”

Popcorn Time takes aim specifically at Hollywood’s counter-intuitive regional deals, protected by geo-blocks, as a way in which potential consumers are being turned off. “Why would people in France wait two years to see a movie that’s already being broadcasted in the US, when they both are paying almost the same amount of money?” the team asks. “The Internet has brought people closer, and they start to notice that some things aren’t acceptable. And then they turn to alternatives, even if it means diving into illegality.”

“Maybe it is time to consider the will of the people and offer them a legal, complete and useful service, no matter where they were born, instead of trying to punish people for… well, for wanting the see the content artists and industries are offering,” Popcorn Time adds, in one final swipe. “Currently, piracy is fulfilling the demand of the people because the industry fails at the transition into the modern age. We think it’s as simple as that.”

Thank you TorrentFreak for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Dribble.

Hollywood Sues US Popcorn Time Users

The studio responsible for producing maligned Adam Sandler comedy The Cobbler, which currently holds a risible 9% on Rotten Tomatoes, has filed a lawsuit in Oregon against 11 people who watched the film through ‘Netflix for pirates’ app, Popcorn Time. This is the first time that a copyright holder has taken legal action against a Popcorn Time user, though film studios have a long history of going after torrenters of its movies.

Cobbler Nevada LLC has filed the motion with Oregon District Court, citing 11 anonymous IP addresses of people suspected to have watched The Cobbler illegally via Popcorn Time, and requesting that Comcast reveals the personal details of the account holders.

“Each defendant’s IP address has been observed and confirmed as both viewing and distributing plaintiff’s motion picture through Popcorn Time,” the complainant claims. “Popcorn Time exists for one purpose and one purpose only: to steal copyrighted content,” the statement continues, asserting that users should be aware of this.

“Without a doubt, each user of Popcorn Time is provided multiple notices that they are downloading and installing software for the express purpose of committing theft and contributing the ability of others to commit theft by furthering the Bit Torrent piracy network,” it continues.

The producers want a permanent injunction against the 11 defendants, plus a $150,000 fine, though, like most “copyright trolls”, they are likely to accept a settlement.

Thank you TorrentFreak for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Mashable.

Popcorn Time Vulnerability Leaves Users Open to Attack

A security engineer has found a vulnerability in popular pirate movie application Popcorn Time that could leave users’ devices open to being hacked by a “man-in-the-middle” attacker. Antonios Chariton (aka ‘DaKnOb’), a Security Engineer & Researcher living in Greece, found the vulnerability in at least one fork of Popcorn Time’s code, and warn users that using the software in its present form could be a risky proposition.

“There are two reasons that made me look into Popcorn Time,” Charlton said. “First of all, I know many people who have installed this application on their personal computers and use it, and second of all, by pure accident: I was setting up my computer firewall when I noticed the network traffic initiated by Popcorn Time.”

Popcorn Time uses Cloudflare to bypass ISP-level blocking in the UK – “a really smart” technique, according to Charlton – but the lack of layered security on top of that system is what leaves Popcorn Time open to attack.

“First of all, the request to Cloudflare is initiated over plain HTTP. That means both the request and the response can be changed by someone with a Man In The Middle position (Local Attacker, Network Administrator, ISP, Government, etc.),” Chariton explained. “The second mistake is that there is no input sanitization whatsoever. That means, there are no checks in place to ensure the validity of the data received. The third mistake is that they make the previous two mistakes in a NodeJS application.”

Charlton exploited this vulnerability as a proof-of-concept, performing a “content spoofing” attack which changed the name of movie Hot Pursuit to Hello World:

Using the same technique, Charlton could change any other information in Popcorn Time, but chose a method by which he could demonstrate the trick easily.

Next, he launched an XSS attack:

“We have injected malicious JavaScript and the client application executed the code. Using this attack we can show fake messages or even do something smarter. Since the application is written in NodeJS, if you find an XSS vulnerability, you are able to control the entire application,” Chariton said. “This essentially is Remote Code Execution on the computer that runs Popcorn Time. You can do anything the computer user could do.”

So, what can be done to protect users? Nothing on the user-end, sadly, but Charlton has some advice for Popcorn Time’s developers. “HTTP is insecure,” he warned. “There’s nothing you can do to change this. Please, use HTTPS everywhere, especially in applications that don’t run inside a web browser. Second, sanitize your input. Even if you receive something over TLS v1.2 using a Client Certificate, it still isn’t secure! Always perform client-side checks of the server response.”

“Last but not least, just because something is Open Source doesn’t mean it’s audited and secure. Discovering and exploiting this vulnerability was literally one hour of work, including the time to write all the JavaScript payloads and come up with cool stuff to do,” Charton adds.

Popcorn Time has responded to the threat, saying:

“This attack requires that the attacker is either inside the local network, inside the host machine, or has poisoned the DNS servers.

In any case, there are far more valuable attacks than simply hitting Popcorn Time. Especially because it does not run with elevated privileges and won’t let the attacker install new programs for example.”

Popcorn Time’s full statement can be found here.

Thank you TorrentFreak for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of GeekZine.

Is Netflix Planning to Implement P2P Streaming?

Inspired perhaps by pirate home cinema app Popcorn Time, it seems Netflix is considering peer-to-peer (P2P) support for its video streaming service. A recent job post by the company for a Senior Software Engineer suggests that it sees P2P as the latest technological step for its media platform, which specifically lists BitTorrent and P2P as desirable skills.

The job listing reads:

We are looking for an experienced, talented and highly-motivated Senior Software Engineer with a strong background in networking and full-stack web application development. Our team is evaluating up-and-coming content distribution technologies, and we are seeking a highly talented senior engineer to grow the knowledge base in the area of peer-to-peer technologies and lead the technology design and prototyping effort.

As a senior member of the team, you will be expected to drive the requirements of the project throughout its lifecycle: architecture/design, implementation, testing, release (for internal use), evaluation and support. You will need to exhibit strong leadership and communication skills, while successfully setting and executing on the engineering and release priorities in a dynamic application development environment. This is a great opportunity to enhance your full-stack development skills, and simultaneously grow your knowledge of the state of the art in peer-to-peer content distribution and network optimization techniques.

Minimum Job Qualifications:

– You are curious about and analyze systems that other people take for granted

– You like to figure out how systems work and how you can improve them

– You have at least five years of full-stack web application software development experience

– You have a solid understanding of how to make systems and software more secure

– You have a successful track record of delivering quality results in cross-functional projects

– You have solid understanding of the software development process and the task involved 

– You have experience with peer-to-peer protocols such as the BitTorrent protocol

The move to P2P makes a lot of sense, increasing streaming quality while reducing overheads, priming Netflix to launch more 4K content to even more customers.

Thank you Torrent Freak for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia.

Pirate Movie Streaming App Popcorn Time Blocked by UK Court

The High Court ruled yesterday that popular movie streaming platform Popcorn Time be blocked by the UK ISPs. Sky, BT, EE, TalkTalk, and Virgin Media will be forced to block access to five URLs that offer the Popcorn Time app for download.

In his ruling, Judge Briss did a marvellous job of stating the obvious regarding Popcorn Time’s legal status, stating, “It is manifest that the Popcorn Time application is used in order to watch pirated content on the internet and indeed it is also manifest that is its purpose.” Though his follow-up “No-one really uses Popcorn Time in order to watch lawfully available content” is not entirely correct, since movies on Popcorn Time are usually DVD or BluRay rips, meaning that they have to be “lawfully available” in order to be streamed. Users are just accessing them without paying for them via illegal means.

Popcorn Time has issued the following statement:

We’re pretty disappointed from the judicial system in the UK and feel pretty sorry for the citizens of England for their basic rights, like the freedom of speech and net neutrality being revoked so easily.

We hope to see some sort of protest from the citizens of the UK against this order, but given how easy it is for the judicial system there to hurt their basic rights, we doubt they will do so

We find this move they made pretty predictable and we’re sure that this is not the last of it. We’re working full force now even more than ever on making Popcorn Time fully p2p and soon the software will not be depended on any domain or centralized server to operate.

Since no ISP has challenged the order, it will come into effect soon, with access to popcorntime.io, flixtor.me, popcorn-time.se, and isoplex.isohunt.to denied to UK users. However, anyone who already has Popcorn Time installed should not see any disruption to their service. Regardless, as with the spate of blocked torrent sites over the last few years, the move is sure to prove futile, with proxies and VPNs offering savvy internet users access to any blocked content.

Thank you Engadget for providing us with this information.

Popcorn Time, the “Netflix for Torrents”, Arrives on iOS

Popcorn Time, known colloquially as the “Netflix for torrents”, has finally arrived on iPad and iPhone. The open source BitTorrent client, powered by YIFY, has been available for Windows, Linux, OS X, and Android for some time, but making the platform available for iOS seemed impossible without a jailbroken device. Now, however, the app’s developers have found a way to install unauthorised software on a normal iOS device.

The first iteration of Popcorn Time, which allows users to stream torrents through its slick interface, closed voluntarily after being hit with copyright notices not long after its initial launch, but the project was resurrected by a group of anonymous coders who made the app into an underground success, bypassing ISP throttling and offering an in-built VPN within a relatively tiny turn-around period.

Those interested in installing Popcorn Time on their iOS device will need to download iOS Installer – which is released on 8th April – to their Windows system, connect an iPhone or iPad to the computer, then follow the instructions to install the torrent streaming app on to the iOS device. A Mac version of iOS Installer is promised soon.

Obviously, sharing copyrighted material is illegal, plus Apple doesn’t take kindly to users installing unauthorised apps on its devices, so, on both counts, use at your own risk.

Source: Gizmodo

Popcorn Time Attempts a new P2P Approach to Slip Past Legal Action

‘Free’ movie sharing service, Popcorn Time, has gone through a number of lawsuits in the past for its attempt to provide its users with pirated movies. However, the service is attempting another comeback and by adopting peer-to-peer based services.

Popcorn Time believes that hosting data directly with its users and no longer relying on domains and centralised servers might slip past legal action that can be taken against them. Reports say that the approach is similar to what BitTorrent is currently using, allowing the service to work even if the main servers are down.

The application is said to also be getting a security update, more specifically, encrypted updates. This is said to prevent malicious code slipping into the community by using a series of cryptographic signatures for its software updates.

While P2P has been used by others in the past and proven to be unsuccessful, the service states that it will be its “sweetest revenge” and “biggest victory” yet.

Thank you TechSpot for providing us with this information

Google Chromecast Receives Support for Pirated Movies through Popcorn-Time

The beta software program dedicated to provide ‘free’ movies, Popcorn-Time, has apparently announced that its software is now Chromecast-compatible for Windows users, having stated that a Chromecast version update is also being worked on for Mac users.

The cheap Chromecast device is Google’s product that allows users to send video from the Chrome browser or Netflix/Youtube service to your TV. Having Google’s announcements of pending updates for the Chromecast device last month, which includes the ability to mirror anything on an Android device to a TV, it makes sense for audio and video software makers to target such devices.

However, Popcorn-Time is an open-source project launched this year. gaining popularity through its easy-to-use interface and free content available. The content itself is basically a collection of video torrent links, which apparently stream the selected movie or video directly onto your device. It is currently compatible with Windows, Mac and Android devices.

Google appears to have not responded immediately to the given news, but its action to take down the Popcorn Time android version from the Google Store within 24h of its launch can only mean that the company will not be thrilled with something like this either.

Thank you CNN for providing us with this information