If you haven’t heard of Popcorn Time rest assured the movie industry and companies like Netflix and Hulu have. It’s basically a free on-demand service for movies and TV shows using Torrents to deliver them. Thing is though it obfuscates all the complexity of dealing with torrents and basically acts exactly like Netflix. In many ways their app is even prettier than Netflix and more simple. You click, it downloads, you watch.
Is it legal? Well in their own words – not really (though they don’t say that exactly). Here is how they define it: “Depends on where you’re from, really. Once again: we’re using torrents, so if you really care, you’d better google what the legal situation around this protocol is where you live.”
Though the point I’d like to make is this – I don’t want to use Popcorn Time. I don’t want to have to use a VPN service if I want to watch something outside the US or vice versa from my villa in Barcelona (joking I don’t own a villa in Spain. Yet). I want to legally pay for any movie or TV show I watch and I want to support the studios and actors. But, the rub is I want them all in one place. And I want all of them, too. I don’t want to guess if I can find something on one platform. I want to know it’s gonna be there. I’ll admit I can probably find > 90% of what’s on Popcorn Time on fully-legal distribution channels. It’s just a huge pain in the ass since typically titles are spread across multiple services (Google Play, Hulu, Netflix, On-Demand, Redbox, YouTube, the list goes on and on). Legal services also don’t address the ridiculous international restrictions. I still can’t believe that’s an issue in 2015. Overall what this leads to is a complicated and splintered experience that sucks and because it sucks drives a lot of people to seek out services like Popcorn Time. I wish that weren’t the case, I really do.
Perhaps the whole Interview movie fiasco might (though probably not) be a blessing in disguise for movie companies. Perhaps we’ll end this ridiculous slotted release of movie theater, buy on-demand, rent DVD, rent on-demand system they have going now. And maybe, just maybe a service will come along that does have everything whenever I want to watch it wherever the hell I might be. I’d gladly pay 3, 4, or even 5x what I’m paying now without a moments hesitation. Here’s to hoping someday I’ll get that chance. Till then the legitimate avenues will always be getting hit hard by services like Popcorn Time.