Streaming controversy over “Popcorn Time” phone app

Imagine a high-quality video streaming platform that does not have pesky ads like Hulu, and is most importantly free,  unlike Netflix. This does sound too good to be true, but aside from all skepticism, such an application exists. Popcorn-Time, a fairly new video platform, can stream almost every movie or TV show in high definition with an array of subtitles. It is still in its beta stages, but so far, it has been working smoothly. There is no $8.99 monthly fee. There are no random popups that offer a one-time deal to talk with Jasmine or other promiscuous women. Unlike Netflix, Hulu and other video applications you can think of, Popcorn-Time has the latest selection of media, from “Guardians of the Galaxy” to the latest season of “Game of Thrones.” The limitless buffet of entertainment is free to download for Windows, Mac and Linux. Popcorn-Time is definitely a dream come true to all the frugal binge-watchers, but there are some drawbacks to the application that might deter some users.

Popcorn-Time is an application similar to uTorrent. Popcorn-Time acts as a torrent-downloading medium, downloads whatever movie or show bit by bit and streams it in high quality for the viewer. However, unlike uTorrent, the file will remain hidden on the drive and will be deleted when the computer is restarted. According to their website, Popcorn-Time gets the latest movies from YTS, a website that has a wide selection of movie torrents.

Now, the main concern about this application is the legality. That all depends on where the user runs Popcorn-Time. If you’re in Canada, Poland, the Netherlands or Spain, then it’s fine, as long as it’s for personal and noncommercial use. however, if you’re in US, then it is irrefutably illegal. Many remember the “Mission Impossible” themed anti-piracy commercials, where it compares stealing a car with a crowbar to illegally downloading a movie. Because Popcorn-Time uses torrents to get the latest entertainment, it is considered copyright infringement and punishible with up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Furthermore, Popcorn-Time understands the liabilities and hopes the user does as well. This is firmly stated in their terms and agreements that “you expressively agree that your use of ‘Popcorn-Time’ is at your sole risk.”

During my first two days of use, I was oblivious to how Popcorn-Time streamed movies and shows. Frankly, I was too focused on how many movies I could finish by the end of the weekend. Once I figured out the horrific truth about the application, my relationship with Popcorn-Time remained strong, with a few constraints. Because of my fear that FBI agents will kick down my door and arrest me for illegally watching “Wreck-It Ralph,” I stopped streaming movies; however, I continued using the application for T.V. shows. I really hate useless ads and when Popcorn-Time offered to stream high quality episodes of “American Horror Story,” I immediately fell in love. Sure, the government might be tracking my IP address and discretely hacking into my computer for other illegal activities, but I still can’t comprehend why the FBI would target me out of the millions of other U.S. citizens who casually pirate movies and music. On a survey done by the American Assembly in Columbia University and reported by Daily Tech, nearly 45 percent of Americans “actively pirate media.” I may be wrong, but I think the enforcement of the piracy law has become lenient. Hopefully, I don’t jinx myself and suddenly find myself in prison.

Nonetheless, I stopped using Popcorn-Time. I found something better, AdBlock for Chrome. It’s a self-explanatory program and it does a fantastic job in suppressing those pesky ads. Hulu, a website that is funded from these ads, suddenly can’t, and instead, on every break, it shows a message that apologizes for the inconvenience of not having ads – like it was ever a convenience.

If Popcorn-Time sounds appealing, then feel free to try it out. Remember that it is using torrents and that is illegal in the U.S.