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Piracy Media Movies Television Entertainment

Controversial Torrent Streaming App 'Popcorn Time' Shuts Down, Then Gets Reborn 199

An anonymous reader writes "A piece of software called 'Popcorn Time' drew a lot of attention last week for encapsulating movie torrents within a slick, stream-based UI that made watching pirated films as easy as firing up Netflix. The app ran into trouble a few days ago when it was pulled from its hosting provider, Mega, and now Popcorn Time's creators say they're shutting it down altogether. They say it was mainly an experiment: '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. But people do. We've shown that people will risk fines, lawsuits and whatever consequences that may come just to be able to watch a recent movie in slippers. Just to get the kind of experience they deserve.' However, the software itself isn't a complete loss — the project is being picked up by the founder of a torrent site, and he says development will continue."
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Controversial Torrent Streaming App 'Popcorn Time' Shuts Down, Then Gets Reborn

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  • by wisnoskij ( 1206448 ) on Saturday March 15, 2014 @01:04PM (#46493059) Homepage

    Most torrents are probably added to watch right away, so if more emphasis on getting the first part first, and watching while it is downloaded, how is this not simply a good thing.

  • by J3947 ( 2543110 ) on Saturday March 15, 2014 @01:23PM (#46493179)
    Your comment completely ignores the economic situation of creators. There's a large overhead cost and a very small per-unit cost. Pirates want to pay the per-unit cost and ignore the fact that creators have the burden of paying-off the large overhead cost. Copyright (or "government enforced monopoly") is a way to balance that equation so that creators can actually get sufficiently paid for their labor. If you're going to ignore the economics of the situation, then of course you're going to arrive at ignorant opinions about copyright.

    BTW, it isn't about "ideas or methods" it's about taking someone's work VERBATIM. It's disingenuous to claim it's about ideas.
  • by David Jao ( 2759 ) <djao@dominia.org> on Saturday March 15, 2014 @03:20PM (#46494089) Homepage
    Yes, absolutely. Commercial software represents about 1% of our economy, even under the current copyright regime which artificially tilts the market in favor of the software sector. It's absolutely, criminally insane from a policy perspective to hold the other 99% of our economy hostage to this special interest. Lifting the artificial technological restrictions imposed by copyright would grow our economy by much more than 1%, every single year.

    To take just one example, if not for copyright restrictions, Google Books would provably be willing to make available for free to every human on the planet the entire contents of the Library of Congress. You're telling me that the future potential growth from making this knowledge available isn't worth trading 1% of our economy on a one-time basis?

  • by BronsCon ( 927697 ) <social@bronstrup.com> on Saturday March 15, 2014 @03:38PM (#46494215) Journal

    I'm all for artists and production crews getting paid for their hard work. After all, I survive on copyright and I enjoy getting paid or my work. What I can't get behind is (and let's simplify by making the assumption that the theatrical release brought in just enough to cover production, distribution, and the gap between wholesale and retail, for the BluRay release, that none of that revenue went toward paying for the production of the movie itself, and that there was no profit from the theatrical release) being asked to pay $40 for a BluRay copy of a $20M budget flick *after* it's sold 500,000 copies. Pay *something* for it? Yes, but they've recouped their production costs. Remember that a movie budget includes *every* expense, pay for the actors, production crew, stage hands, and the guy that brings the director his coffee, the cost of renting props (and creating one-off props) and buying or renting set locations. Everything. 500k * $40 = $20M. They've been paid at that point. All of them. Everyone.

    Now, let's acknowledge that the theatrical release already covered the production budget and brought in a bit of profit. Moving away from the earlier simplification, we also have to admit that, while the $40 cost of a BluRay isn't pure profit, the production and distribution costs of that BluRay disc are much less than the $30 wholesale; pennies per disc, but let's call it $1 to be extra fair to the industry. So they're making $29 on that disc when the store buys it; on a movie that's already been paid for and turned a profit. The people who did the actual work have already been paid by this point, so piracy really and truly is not hurting them; the store they might have bought it from lost $10 or so in profit (and if that store happens to be Target, they probably deserve it at this point, anyway), but the studio can't say they lost the $29 they would have made when the store restocked that sold copy, because the store likely won't restock it unless it's a brand new release, anyway.

    For a large subset of pirates, this is the motivating factor. Wholesale the damn disc for $10 with a retail of $15, $5 and $7.50 for DVD, and make a noticeable dent in piracy. Allow (DRM-free) downloads, from the day the BluRay becomes available, for 2/3 of those prices (since there's no resale possible -- and those prices would be $10 for 1080p, $5 for SD) and take out an even larger chunk. Allow *unlimited* streaming, also from the day the BluRay becomes available, at 1/3 of those prices (for those having trouble following along, that's $5 for 1080p and $2.50 for SD) and one-time streaming for $2 for 1080p or $1 for SD, and yes, there will still be pirates, but nobody will bat an eye when you prosecute them.

    And if the studios do this first-party, they will reap all of the profits. As it is right now, They see less than $2 for 1080p and $1 for SD from Apple, when someone streams a movie from iTunes, so it would be a win all around.

  • by cyberzephyr ( 705742 ) on Saturday March 15, 2014 @04:50PM (#46494597) Journal

    I found out about Popcorn time from Huffington post last week and used it 3 times. It was amazing. If you did not get the chance to see it then, too bad. Netflix sucks by comparison for something that lasted 4 day's.

    Now as for legality, I feel something might have been illegal about it (hehe) but i wish it were not. I am totally unashamed about what i did. It truly was something to see.

"I'm not afraid of dying, I just don't want to be there when it happens." -- Woody Allen