Popcorn Time is an open-source streaming service that allows you to watch movies online for free. “Free” is the keyword when it comes to Popcorn Time. A free service is no doubt appealing but, of course, you may wonder “is Popcorn Time legal?”
VOD services changed the way people watch movies and TV shows online. Such services opened the doors for users getting access to entire libraries of TV shows and movies which they could access whenever they wanted. Users suddenly had better access to a wider variety of content. Over time, things got even better with newer VOD services.
Although services like Netflix continue to enjoy the lion’s share of the market, there are services which are more pocket and user-friendly. Then there’s Popcorn Time, which is open-source, free to use streaming service that allows users to stream the latest movies and TV shows from anywhere in the world.
In its short history of existence, Popcorn Time has gained attention for all possible reasons. To this day, users don’t know whether it is legal to use Popcorn Time or not. Well, we will shed light on that.
Legality Of Popcorn Time
Popcorn Time is a service that uses the BitTorrent protocol to allow users to stream content over the internet. It only uses the same protocol, but there is a slight variation between the two services. While torrent users have to wait for the complete file to download before they can watch it, Popcorn Time allows users to begin streaming the content immediately.
You use a peer-to-peer system, just like in the BitTorrent protocol, to stream content not from a central server but from different user computers. The difference is that you don’t have to wait for the file to download before you can stream it.
Now, P2P and BitTorrent are perfectly legal services, so one would normally think that using Popcorn Time should be legal as well.
Popcorn Time is legal, but it depends on how you use it, just as with torrents. As long as you use Popcorn Time to stream copyrighted content yourself and not share it, you are not really breaking the law. The copyright laws were pretty stringent in the past, which led to a lot of tension between copyright holders and users.
But over time, the former have realized that allowing users to stream copyrighted content for personal use is fine. It’s when you share this content that problems arise. Popcorn Time saves the downloaded file temporarily in your system, and this could be shared with others.
If this happens, then it is a case of digital piracy, since you are sharing copyrighted content illegally. The temporary files are removed from your system when you restart it, but you can choose to keep them as well.
Situation In Different Countries And Using VPN
Popcorn Time as a service is perfectly legal to use. Its legality, though, depends on how you are using the service, just as with Torrents. Many countries allow users to use Popcorn Time, while a lot of countries do not do so.
Popcorn Time is blocked in many parts of the world for this reason. There are copyright protectors who actively monitor users who use such services to identify when someone is indulging in digital piracy.
In countries like USA and UK, receiving notices from the ISP is pretty common if you are found to be involved in such practices. In recent years, Germany has also started issuing legal notices in the form of Abmahnung letters, but there is a lot of misinterpretation and misuse of this service in the country.
If you are in a country like Australia or Canada where the ISPs are required by law to record and maintain activity logs and browsing the history of users for a minimum period, then you should definitely opt to use a VPN for Popcorn Time.
VPNs hide your online activity by encrypting your traffic and hide your identity and location by masking your true IP address. Regardless of where you are, if you want to use Popcorn Time freely, you should opt to choose one of the top 7 VPNs for Popcorn Time.
Popcorn Time always went down in 2014 when Norwegian authorities took hold of its main domain. But since it is an open-source service, there are so many versions that authorities have no way of shutting the service down completely. The ‘Netflix for pirates’ will continue to operate, but it is your responsibility to use it securely to be safe from legal action. The best way to do that is to use a VPN.