Media streaming seems like it’s become the world’s biggest past time. What was originally something only tech-savvy, movie fans did, is now something almost everyone does. Services like Amazon Prime Video appeal to even families and older people.
We’ve all heard of the household services, such as Netflix, Hulu, and Prime Video. But what about ‘Popcorn Time’? Popcorn Time is a lesser-known streaming service, allowing users to stream films online free-of-charge. But as great as this sounds, it’s this ‘free-of-charge’ that is a concern for many. It makes people wonder, with users not having to part with any cash to enjoy the service, ‘is Popcorn Time legal?’
Like many other streaming services, the software itself that Popcorn Time offers isn’t illegal. But depending on the content that’s available, it may be. Not only this, but there are looser or stricter laws between countries, especially when it comes to licensing and copyright. Just because Popcorn Time is illegal in one region, doesn’t mean it will be in another.
Put simply, answering this question isn’t particularly straightforward. So, to understand a bit more about this, and avoid any legal trouble yourself, we’ve broken down what exactly Popcorn Time is. We will also show you the best way to make use of it!
What is Popcorn Time?
Popcorn Time is yet another open-source, free-to-use streaming platform. It allows users to access the latest movies, documentaries and TV shows on-demand from all over the world. Although services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video get most of the market share nowadays when it comes to online streaming, services like Popcorn Time have gained praise in the online streaming community. This is for the range of content they offer, expecting nothing from their users in return.
But this isn’t without its potential downsides. As all of these legal services have permission to stream all of the content they offer. On the other hand, there isn’t much proof that Popcorn Time does. This leaves many users wondering if, when using Popcorn Time, they’re actually safe.
How Does It Work?
Popcorn Time works like other services such as Kodi or IPTV, to name a few. It utilizes the BitTorrent protocol in order to allow users access to movies and TV shows to stream. Like torrents, rather than streaming from a central base or server, streams are linked between users. This is on a peer-to-peer basis from different systems and locations.
But just because it makes use of the BitTorrent protocol doesn’t mean the content it offers is the same as torrents. Unlike torrents, these can be streamed immediately online, rather than having to wait for them to download.
Attention: Read before you continue
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Is Popcorn Time Legal?
Peer-to-peer services, as well as services that make use of torrents, are completely legal. And this leads many people to think that Popcorn Time itself is legal too. As mentioned at the start of this article, Popcorn Time alone is not automatically illegal. But if the service is used in a certain way, or makes use of certain content, then it can definitely cross certain legal boundaries.
Streaming any content for personal use – even if Popcorn Time technically doesn’t have the licensing to do so legally – is largely seen as legal. Any legal issues will be on Popcorn Time themselves as providers of such content.
But if users choose to share on this content, without direct permission from the copyright holders themselves, this definitely crosses some legal boundaries.
Whether this is done consciously and deliberately – such as uploading or transferring files online – or through background peer-to-peer sharing, this can definitely be seen as a direct breach of copyright. It can result in some hefty fines. For this reason, it’s important to disable peer-to-peer sharing of content you don’t own. This is in order to avoid any associated risk.
Countries Where Popcorn Time is Illegal
Again, Popcorn Time as a service, in general, isn’t necessarily illegal, but it’s rather the use of this service, and the material experienced or shared through it, than can result in legal boundaries being crossed. When it comes to online and media copyright laws, these can vary greatly between regions and countries, so it’s important to be clued up about the potential risks and repercussions associated.
Some countries in the world block services like Popcorn Time automatically. So, accessing them isn’t possible. If you find ways to bypass this – such as using a VPN – getting caught can still result in strict punishment. Countries like the UK and the US tend to use people’s ISPs (Internet Service Providers) as a bridge between official governing bodies, and users themselves.
It’s fairly common to receive a notification or warning from your ISP telling you of a copyright infringement that you have done, in order to prevent you from repeating this. Countries like Canada or Australia are required by law to keep logs of users’ activity. This includes their streams and downloads. Germany is seen by many as the very strictest when it comes to copyright and online material. Many of its citizens have received hefty fines for streaming, downloading and sharing films and TV shows without permission from the copyright holder. That’s why many people choose to go through the legal channels instead.
Overall, Popcorn Time is a fantastic open-source streaming service. It provides users with a truly great library of films and TV shows. But although the service doesn’t cost a penny, it’s this in particular that leads to a cause for concern. It makes it clear that the copyright owners and license holders don’t permit Popcorn Time to stream or share their content.
Have you used Popcorn Time? If so, what are your thoughts?