The US version of Popcorn Time, the hugely popular "Netflix for pirates" illegal movie streaming service, has announced that it has relaunched on a new domain, despite having been previously shut down by Hollywood.
The creators of the now-defunct PopcornTime.io have moved to a new domain – Popcorn.sh – and they also pushed out the Hail Hydra update in early February. Some users still have outdated versions of the software client on their machines and the update caused the software to start working.
The developers were initially not willing to claim responsibility for the US fork's return, but after some prodding from Torrent Freak, the team decided to release a statement about what's been going on since the website suddenly disappeared in October 2015.
At the time, it was rumoured that the US arm of the service had shut down due to in-fighting among the developers, problems with losing control of their domain, and legal action by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) in the US, Canada and New Zealand.
In the end, it emerged that the MPAA threatened the operators of PopcornTime.io, its sister virtual private network (VPN) service VPN.ht, and the torrent sites YTS and YIFY, with a multi-million-dollar copyright-infringement lawsuit if they did not shut down immediately, and the parties are now working out a deal to minimise harm to themselves.
We're back, but with a smaller team
"After the 'MPAA incident', we're a little diminished, and we've chosen a new direction: we're shifting from an active development of Popcorn Time to a more or less resilience-driven development. We will keep an eye on the bug tracker and fix the most urgent ones, but you have to understand, once more, that we are a community offering an application for those without access to a real streaming platform and a real catalogue, for free, without ads," Popcorn Time's creators wrote in a blog post.
"The last four months have been chaotic. We've seen some forks keeping up the good work and others who just wanted to attract users into a trap of adwares & malwares. We would like to take a moment to thank the Reddit community for taking things over while we were in standby."
The team says that most of its crew have left the fork to develop a new online streaming technology platform called Project Butter that according to Torrent Freak uses "neutral technology and no illegal content".
Butter and Torrents Time
Therefore, the US fork of Popcorn Time will no longer be in active development, but will instead be updated with the technological developments from Butter as they emerge. The creators also say that they do not accept donations, do not intend to do so, and will not be intending to monetise the service in any way.
This is in contrast to the European fork PopcornTime.se, which is still working on new developments for the service to keep users anonymous online and prevent the service from being eradicated. To that end, the team announced on 3 February that it was using a new technology called Torrents Time to get the service into as many web browsers as possible.
Security researchers later found that there were some problems with Torrents Time that would enable hackers to perform cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks, but the team behind Torrents Time said that the problems had now been fixed and had not been deliberate. The European fork has not entered the discussion, but equally it has not pulled the Torrents Time plugin from its service.