Popcorn Time, an application described as a sort of Netflix for streaming pirated content via torrent-sharing sites, has been removed by its hosting provider for apparent violations of terms of service.
The free, open-source software had been available to download on New Zealand-based file website Mega, run by Kim Dotcom, the notorious mastermind behind Megaupload, a cyberlocker that U.S. authorities shut down in January 2012. As of Wednesday morning, the download link for Popcorn Time had been disabled with a message indicating that the software violated Mega’s terms of service.
Popcorn Time presents a menu of movies — including recent releases like “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” “American Hustle,” “12 Years a Slave,” “Frozen” and “Dallas Buyers Club” — culled from torrent piracy sites like The Pirate Bay. But instead of requiring users to download files via a BitTorrent client, the Popcorn Time software finds the selected titles from torrent directories and begins streaming titles within a few seconds.
The developers of Popcorn Time, via Twitter, said they are looking for another hosting provider. The app was created by “a bunch of geeks from Buenos Aires,” according to the Popcorn Time website.
One of the individuals behind Popcorn Time, identified only as “Sebastian,” last week told piracy-news website TorrentFreak that he did not expect any legal issues because the app is free and carries no advertising and because Popcorn Time itself is not hosting any files.
In January 2013, Dotcom — a.k.a. Kim Schmitz and Kim Tim Jim Vesto — launched Mega, a cloud-based storage service that uses encryption that is purportedly designed to shield users from being snooped on by governments or corporations.
The U.S. government is seeking to extradite Kim Dotcom, with a hearing in New Zealand scheduled for July 7. Law enforcement officials allege Megaupload generated more than $175 million in revenue from piracy — including $150 million in subscription fees — and caused more than $500 million in damages to copyright holders.