These days, we’ve become accustomed to having access to vast libraries of movies or music tracks. In the past few years, services like Netflix have been joined by torrent-based alternatives like Popcorn Time, giving entertainment lovers an unprecedented amount of choice about what they watch.
However, this choice can come with additional risks that users aren’t always aware of. And this definitely applies to Popcorn Time. In this blog, we’ll discuss what kind of risks movie fans face and how to mitigate those dangers. Only then can we answer the question is Popcorn Time safe? As we’ll see, there are ways to balance choice and security, but it might mean changing your online behavior.
What is Popcorn Time, and why is it so popular?
Popcorn Time is a BitTorrent-based client which provides access to movies and TV shows. In its most popular form, Popcorn Time takes the form of a downloadable app, which runs on Linux, Windows, MacOS, and Android platforms.
Over the years, the developers of Popcorn Time have “forked” a number of times, resulting in a variety of apps. However, there’s still a single version which is authorized by the dev team.
The concept is fairly simple. When users fire up the Popcorn Time app, they connect to a constantly changing library of movies and TV shows. These are shown as icons, just as you’d expect with Netflix.
When you click on those icons, instead of streaming from a central location, Popcorn Time connects users to torrent trackers and starts to download from a global community of users who hold the movie on their disks. Usually, this means that the file will stream smoothly, although there can be a lag in some instances.
In many cases, users can add subtitles as well, and HD versions are routinely available for high profile releases. Moreover, there are no download restrictions, and the service is totally free. So it’s easy to see why Popcorn Time has become so popular.
Is Popcorn Time legal?
All of these sounds pretty amazing, doesn’t it? A few years ago, we wouldn’t have believed someone who told us that such breadth of choice would become the new normal. But that’s exactly what you get with P2P clients like Popcorn Time.
However, movie and TV companies receive zero revenue from streams played via the site. As you can imagine, Popcorn Time hasn’t gone unchallenged by copyright holders, raising legitimate questions about the platform’s legality.
In fact, Popcorn Time was taken down in 2014 by the MPAA (a US-based copyright organization). And in 2015, the MPAA intervened again against the programmers of the client, who were forced to relocate their website.
More importantly, British ISPs were directed in 2015 to block any URLs linked to Popcorn Time. Since then, there’s a very good chance that your ISP has blocked the trackers connected to Popcorn Time, if not the client download site. So even if you could download the client, you may not have felt the full benefit of what Popcorn Time can do.
What is the current situation regarding Popcorn Time?
As of 2018, the project continues but remains under assault from legal systems across the world. From Norway to Israel, governments have attacked Popcorn Time as an illegal file sharing tool. And yet it’s still available to download and – if you use the right tools – totally functional.
So be aware of those legal issues. Don’t panic: very few people have been prosecuted for using Popcorn Time. However, in 2015, the movie industry sued a group of American fans for downloading Adam Sandler’s “The Cobbler”. It was a warning shot for users across the world, signaling that no-one was safe.
The penalties in this case weren’t huge – a few hundred dollars, and nothing more. Even so, the legal situation is one good reason for answering no to the question is Popcorn Time safe? And it’s a great reason to take action to ensure your online privacy.
Is Popcorn Time safe? How to make your downloads secure and private
Given the legal status of Popcorn Time, it makes sense to do whatever you can to use the service safely. Thankfully, doing so isn’t that hard. Off-the-shelf privacy tools can hide your identity and encrypt whatever you download, making it almost impossible to track your activity.
The key tools here are Virtual Private Networks (VPNs). These apps create encrypted “tunnels” between your computer and websites or online services, including Popcorn Time. They also mask your IP address, routing traffic through servers anywhere in the world. This has the benefit of working around local ISP throttling – a big deal for UK movie fans.
However, before you rush to download the first VPN you find, remember that not all VPNs are equal. There’s quite a lot of difference between free VPNs and elite providers, from the quality of their encryption to the likelihood of your IP address being leaked. So only choose VPNs with solid reputations.
How to use a VPN to protect your Popcorn Time downloads
Setting up a VPN with Popcorn Time is extremely quick and easy. Here’s how it’s done:
- Choose a reliable VPN. Pick a provider with wide international server networks, zero logs, a sound P2P policy, and strong encryption. NordVPN, ExpressVPN, or CyberGhost should be good options to go for.
- Install the VPN client. Remember, good VPNs offer clients for desktops, smartphones, and smart devices. So if you’re running Popcorn Time through Kodi, make sure you choose a provider with Kodi compatibility.
- When the VPN has been installed, connect to its servers with your username and ID. If you need to upgrade to a paid subscription, do so before loading up Popcorn Time.
- Double check that your IP address has been re-routed and that no IP leaks are detected.
- If there are no problems, you’re free to load the Popcorn Time app as normal. When you click on a download, it will be encrypted via the VPN, and your ISP won’t be able to tell that you’re located in the UK.
Enjoy maximum choice and reliable security with a high-quality VPN
The answer to is Popcorn Time safe depends on the actions you take. If you leave your system exposed or use free VPNs with poor IP masking and encryption, then you leave yourself open to prosecution. And you probably won’t be able to evade ISP blocks.
With a dependable Virtual Private Network, those security issues melt away – like butter popcorn as you watch your favorite movies. So don’t take unnecessary risks. Give yourself the online protection you need.