One of the aspects that puts a vast majority of people off downloading copyright-infringing movie torrents - apart from their blatant illegality - is the complexity of the process coupled with the ease of use of legal, above-board streaming services. Netflix, Amazon Prime Instant, Wuaki.tv, NOW TV and the rest may charge a regular subscription fee or one-off payment, but their user experiences are purposely designed for simplicity.
It could be argued therefore that while piracy is a large problem for film studios thanks to the torrent sharing community, it's not as big as it could be. And as popularity in easy to use streaming solutions increases, the temptation to obtain a movie illegally is reduced.
Popcorn Time throws a spanner in the works. It is an open source project that has entered version 2.5 of its beta software and it could be described as Netflix for pirates.
It offers a simple to use, content rich portal to streaming the latest movies as they hit the torrent sites, either in 720p or 1080p. All of the latest movies are on its front end and the developer of the software claims that the very best quality torrent available is the one chosen to be streamed by the end user.
No other dedicated software is needed to watch a film on Popcorn Time, and it is so well presented you could be fooled into thinking that it's an authorised application.
Sebastian, one of the platform's designers, claims that it is hard for studios to take the Popcorn Time team to task for what its users might do with the software. "We don’t expect legal issues," he says.
"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."
Should you fancy checking it out though, you could be liable yourself. It still uses peer to peer sharing to download movies in chunks before streaming them. And the file will be stored on your machine until you restart, so you will be sharing it to others yourself.
Perhaps ironically, perhaps by design, Pocket-lint has noticed that the download installation file for Popcorn Time is hosted on Mega - the cloud service launched by Kim Dotcom after his previous venture Megaupload was taken down amid copyright infringement claims.
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