Just when you thought that Hollywood had won and that illegal movie torrent streaming service Popcorn Time was gone forever, the service has made a comeback, thanks to new backers.
Popcorn Time was built by 20 developers on GitHub to be a sort of illegal version of Netflix. Its software featured an intuitive user interface and was translated into 32 languages.
However, the software installer, hosted by Kim Dotcom's Mega file-sharing service, was only available to download for a few days before it was removed from Mega. It is believed that Dotcom took the file offline due to receiving copyright infringement takedown notices.
On Saturday, a developer from YTS, a movie torrent website, told TorrentFreak that it would be picking up the Popcorn Time project, and that the project had been replicated several times on GitHub to ensure that it would survive.
The new version of the software installer works on Windows, OS X and Linux, and can be downloaded from GitHub.
Picking up the baton?
"The YTS team will now be picking up the Popcorn Time project and continuing on like previously. We are in a better position copyright-wise as for us, because it's built on our API, it's as if we have built another interface to our website. We are no worse off managing the project than we would be just supplying the movies," said developer Jduncanator.
"It's our vision at YTS that we see through projects like these and that just because they create a little stir in the public, it doesn't mean they are shut down. That stir is exactly what the public needs and it's already evident that people are becoming more aware of copyright-related issues."
However, by Sunday night, YTS issued a statement publicly on its website stating that it is not affiliated with Popcorn Time: "YTS is not taking over, and is in no way affiliated with Popcorn Time. This has been misreported on and caused much confusion for many users, for which we apologise. Popcorn Time is a community driven project, not owned nor maintained by a single person or entity."
It's not easy to understand why YTS is backtracking – it can't be the threat of copyright infringement lawsuits, as YTS must already receive its own fair share of legal threats, given the fact that it hosts over 4,300 movie torrents on its website for users to download, with many of the movies available in Blu-ray and other high-definition formats.
Debates about movie piracy
Yet perhaps the media furore and debates about piracy have spooked YTS.
The founders of Popcorn Time, based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, wrote over the weekend that they had decided to shut down due to the "associated costs" that came from standing up against the "old-fashioned" movie industry.
"Piracy is not a people problem. It's a service problem. A problem created by an industry that portrays innovation as a threat to their antique recipe to collect value. It seems to everyone that they just don't care," the team said in a statement.
"Popcorn Time is shutting down today. Not because we ran out of energy, commitment, focus or allies. But because we need to move on with our lives. Our experiment has put us at the doors of endless debates about piracy and copyright, legal threats and the shady machinery that makes us feel in danger for doing what we love. And that's not a battle we want a place in."