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Popcorn Time, The Free App That Makes Streaming Torrents As Easy As Netflix

It has been described as a "Netflix for pirates"—but is it legal? (Hint: probably not!)

Popcorn Time, The Free App That Makes Streaming Torrents As Easy As Netflix

[Image: Flickr user calamity_sal]

Update 3/12/2014: Variety reports Popcorn Time's hosting provider has pulled the plug. The service announced on Twitter that it is actively searching for a new host.

Between Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and iTunes, it's easier than ever to watch whatever you want, whenever you want it—for a price.

The draw of these legal services is that they're well designed and intuitive enough for mom to use. Recent stats suggest that giving consumers a legal way to consume media is working, too: In 2011, BitTorrent accounted for 13% of all web traffic in North America during peak hours; in 2013, that figure nearly halved to 7%.

But what if BitTorrent—a technology from a real company in a perpetual state of reinvention—were, I dunno… prettier? Enter Popcorn Time, a new cross-platform streaming app that has been described as a "Netflix for pirates." Essentially, it lets users who stream whatever movie or TV show they want, whenever they want—for free.

"The technology behind the app is very simple," Sebastian (yep, he goes by just the one name in the media), a designer from Buenos Aires, tells TorrentFreak. "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."

As you're watching, say, Gravity, you'll be seeding to other users at the same time. Movies streamed using torrents are stored in a secret location on your hard drive. Once you restart, the movie's gone.

Depending on your geography and how to use it, Popcorn Time might not be exactly legal. (Let's face it: It probably isn't.) In fact, the free platform's FAQ and Terms of Service is couched in all sorts of legalese intended to distance itself from the activities of its users. "We're using torrents," they write, "so if you really care, you'd better Google what the legal situation around these protocol is where you live." Still undeterred? You can check out Popcorn Time for yourself here.