It is a common statement within ad agencies that ‘everything is going mobile’ but few of these throwaway comments would have been referring to pirate video services. Dubbed the ‘Netflix of Pirating’, the popular BitTorrent service Popcorn Time managed to navigate its way on to iPhone’s last week with an off-the-books iOS app.
Unlike other open-source BitTorrent platforms, Popcorn Time has a very sleek interface that immediately confuses the senses as for those who’ve used similar sites (out of curiosity of course) tend to find you’re met with grotesque pop-ups and spam filters. Their site which got closed down last October had more than a million users worldwide and that is before this new iteration even came into play.
Before I go any further, the question you’re all wondering – is it illegal? Technically not. Popcorn Time doesn’t actually host any copyright-infringing torrents on it’s platform. It is merely a portal which links to torrent clips hosted elsewhere online and provides a high speed good quality media player which enables you to view them quickly and easily. The sticky part is when you’ve got the files on your PC and you’re sharing them through any other open-source platform, that in itself is still illegal (as for Popcorn though… try and stop them!)
In their latest move, Popcorn Time aim to challenge the entire ownership of video and further open the doors for easy to stream peer-to-peer content. Not at all phased by the enormity of the brand that is Apple, Popcorn Time have circumnavigated the tech giants app vetting process by using a new installation software to get unregistered apps onto non-jailbroken phones. The decision for people to jailbreak their device does come with risks but can open up a new world of possibility to users, including apps such as this. This app will not only raise eyebrows with the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) which previously took the site down due to copyright infringement but Apple will undoubtedly look to fight back to make sure this doesn’t set a precedent for larger, bigger businesses to use these loop-holes to reach users of their products.
Questions will also be asked within the advertising world as to whether the legality of services such as Popcorn Time opens up an untapped opportunity for growing a media space. It runs certain risks currently of brands associating themselves with what is still widely seen to be a negative trend however with some adopters comparing the service to the likes of Netflix, it certainly sparked some imaginations.
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