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 this streaming application. A free service is no doubt appealing but, of course, you may wonder “is Popcorn Time legal?”
In a nutshell, the software in itself is not illegal but the way you use it most likely is. Another variable is your country of residence. Many of our readers send us messages asking: is Popcorn time legal in USA? Or is Popcorn Time legal in Canada? We receive similar questions from almost every where in the world. Many readers want to know in which countries is legal to watch Popcorn Time.
The fact is that there is not a straightforward answer to this question. Laws and regulations about watching movies online on thid open-source streaming platform vary from nation to nation.
Therefore, we advise you to keep on reading since you will understand if Popcorn Time is legal or illegal in your specific case. We will give you even precious hints on how to enjoy streaming movies on Popcorn Time with one of the best VPN for streaming without worries wherever you are.
What Is Popcorn Time?
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 that 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 that are more pocket and user-friendly.
Then there’s Popcorn Time, which is an open-source and free to use streaming service. The service allows users to stream the latest movies and TV shows from anywhere in the world.
In its short history of existence, this streaming platform has gained attention for all possible reasons. To this day, users don’t know whether Popcorn Time is legal or not and if you can get in trouble using it.
Well, we will shed light on that and explain why and how a good Popcorn Time VPN, like the ones listed below, can give total peace of mind.
How Does PopcornTime Work?
It is a service that uses the BitTorrent protocol to allow users to stream content over the internet.
Even though Popcorn Time works thanks to the BitTorrent protocol, there is an important 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.
Is Popcorn Time Safe?
Generally, yes. The application itself is not malevolent if you download it from a reputable source (the official website – see below). However, there are rogue versions of the Popcorn Time client in existence, and those unofficial versions are often filled with malware by hackers. This makes it essential for users to be extremely careful about where they download it from.
If you download Popcorn Time from a reputable source, the application itself is not malevolent. There are different versions of the application (known as “forks”) and some are malicious. They will install malware on your system or ask you to pay to use the software (Note: Popcorn Time is free. Therefore, if you are asked to pay it is clear evidence you are in the wrong place.)
Therefore, you must be extremely careful about where you download Popcorn Time from. Currently, the official website where you can download the application is Popcorn Time.tw.
Can You Safely Use It Without a VPN?
Simply said, using Popcorn Time without a VPN is incredibly risky. Please note that even Popcorn Time’s developers push people only to use it with a VPN.
From a technical point of view, you can use Popcorn Time without a VPN. All the content will be available, and nothing will stop you. However, if you don’t use a VPN for Popcorn Time, you will openly reveal all the movies and TV shows you have pirated. This could easily lead to problems with your ISP or to fines or even prosecution. (You can learn more in the section “Legality of Popcorn Time”)
The application itself comes with a VPN built in. However, this VPN is not that great because is relatively slow and it is not well performing in term of security.
We recommend subscribing to world-class services with military-grade encryption and strong no logs policies. This is the only way to ensure that there is no risk of your data being intercepted by your ISP or the government when you use Popcorn Time.
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Legality of Popcorn Time
Now, P2P and BitTorrent are perfectly legal services, so you may think that using Popcorn Time should be legal as well.
Popcorn Time software is in itself legal, but it depends on how you use it, just as with torrents. As long as you use it to stream copyrighted content for your personal use and do 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.
However, it’s when you share this content that problems arise. Therefore, it is important to understand where does Popcorn Time store movies.
In this regard, the new versions of the application save the downloaded file in your system, and that may confront you with legal issues. Once the file is on your device, other users can download it through the P2P platform and this is forbidden by law. For this reason, Popcorn Time lawsuit is what you may have to undergo if you get caught.
If the sharing happens, then it is a case of digital piracy, since you are sharing copyrighted content illegally. You can decide to remove the files from your system when you restart it, but you can choose to keep them as well.
Moreover, you must consider that laws differ from country to country and in certain regions using Popcorn Time is illegal in any case.
In Which Countries is Popcorn Time Illegal
Popcorn Time as a service is perfectly legal to use. Its legality, though, depends on both how you are using the service, just as with Torrents and from where you use the service. Some countries allow users to use the streaming application, 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 involved in such practices. In recent years, Germany has also become strict regarding copyright infringement. Legal notices in the form of Abmahnung letters have been issued quite frequently and using the application in Germany can easily lead to problems.
If you are in a country like Australia or Canada you need to be careful. In these countries, the ISPs (Internet Service Providers) must record and maintain activity logs by law and browsing the history of users for a minimum period.
In Canada, the problem arises only if you reproduce the content but the file saved on your device could be enough for you to infringe this rule. Instead, it is illegal in Australia just because gives you access to copyrighted content.
In these countries, we strongly recommend the use of a Popcorn Time VPN.
How a VPN Protects You While Watching Movies Online
VPNs hide your online activity by encrypting your traffic and hiding your identity and location by masking your true IP address. Regardless of where you are, using Popcorn Time without a VPN is risky and may lead to legal problems. You should opt to choose one of the top 7 VPNs for Popcorn Time.
When you connect to PopcornTime through a VPN connection, the encryption hides your data both to your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and authorities. Therefore, even if you happen to download and share copyrighted contents, nobody will know it is you. Thanks to how a VPN works, you won’t have to worry about legal issues while watching your favorite movie.
Cases of Legal Issues With Popcorn Time
Unfortunately, there are many users that took the problem lightly and had to face legal issues. Some have only being interrogated while many others ended up paying a fine after a Popcorn Time lawsuit.
For instance, in 2015 users in Oregon where sued by Indie studio Millennium Films and its affiliate Nu Image. They have been accused of illegally downloading over 10.000 copies of the movie Survivor. Again, 11 Popcorn Time users had to go to court for downloading the movie The Cobbler with Adam Sandler. Similar problems were faced by users who downloaded the movie Dallas Buyers Club.
These cases have made it to the news but are just some examples of legal problems that Popcorn Time users may experience. For this reason, the protection of a VPN is strongly recommended for every user.
Popcorn Time 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 trusted VPN like NordVPN, ExpressVPN, or CyberGhost.