The US version of the hugely popular "Netflix for pirates" illegal movie streaming service Popcorn Time may have officially been shut down, but the European fork is still alive and well, and easily accessible in many countries.
While PopcornTime.io, the US fork of the service has been shut down, it seems that it is business as usual for the European fork of Popcorn Time, which is known as PopcornTime.se. IBTimes UK tested connecting to the service via VPN and also asked several users in different countries to try to access the website using a regular unencrypted Wi-Fi connection.
We can confirm that the service is still up and running in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France, Italy, Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands, Greece, Japan, China, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Brazil.
And even in the UK, where Popcorn Time was recently hit by the ProxyHouse law enforcement operation to block reverse proxies for a number of popular illegal file-sharing websites, the service is still accessible on Plusnet and Hyperoptic, although it remains blocked on BT, Talk Talk, Virgin Media and Sky.
PopcornTime.se is alive and has VPN built in
Although TorrentFreak has declared that PopcornTime.io is the most popular fork of the service, the European service is also used by many users, and in fact was the first to release user figures back in September 2014 when it announced that PopcornTime.se was being accessed by four million devices.
Since then, the team behind PopcornTime.se has made the service available to work on all Android and iOS devices, even iOS devices that are not jailbroken, and a free built-in VPN is available on all platforms.
IBTimes UK last spoke with PopcornTime.se's developers in July, when they told us that their service was being used as a scapegoat for the explosion in movie streaming piracy, and that copyright holders and legal content providers like Netflix were ignoring the more serious issues that geographic content restrictions bring.
The developers told us at the time that they were reticent to release any new user figures as their press release in September 2014 had led to unwanted attention.
We have contacted the developers of PopcornTime.se for comment on the ongoing situation with Popcorn Time and are waiting for a response. However in the meantime, the website's home page continues to carry the tagline: "This Popcorn Time service will never be taken down. Download and enjoy."
The demise of PopcornTime.io
On 19 October, TorrentFreak reported that the developers working on the US fork Popcorntime.io were facing a rumoured lawsuit from Hollywood, which had prompted several developers to leave the project. The developers complained of serious internal disagreements about how the service should be run, especially the service's relationship with the commercial virtual private network (VPN) provider vpn.ht.
Soon after this, the service's .io domain stopped working around the world, and on 23 October, the team behind PopcornTime.io informed TorrentFreak that they had completely lost control of their domain due to someone allegedly tampering with the website's DNS service.
As the team could not convince their internet service provider (ISP) Gandi.net to transfer their domain to one of the remaining developers on the team, in the end PopcornTime.io developer Wally shut down all of the servers pertaining to PopcornTime.io.