Popcorn Time, a movie streaming app that uses bits of torrents from various sites to compile movies and TV shows to then be streamed, appears to have been knocked out (opens in new tab) of the game, at least temporarily. The popular web streaming site has emerged as a free, but illegal competitor to Netflix (opens in new tab).
Like most torrent sites, the site allows people to gain access to movies and media without having to pay for it.
Popcorn Time has now gone through multiple iterations. Following pressure from legal authorities and movie companies, the crowd-supported website has been shut down on several different occasions, including two separate times in the last 24 hours. Each time a shutdown has happened, a new developer has stepped up to the plate and relaunched the torrent program.
Is Popcorn Time gone for good this time around? Perhaps not, but with an increasing number of hosting services bending to the will of legal authorities and copyright companies, even if the service is revived, it may be short-lived.
This might not be a bad thing, however. Piracy has become a major threat for content creators, many of whom are already struggling with dropping ad revenue and other challenges. Fact is, content can’t be created for free, especially when it comes to movies and TV shows.
Piracy becoming costly for media producers
Industry experts estimate (opens in new tab) that at least 45 per cent of Americans download movies illegally, rising to 70 per cent among younger demographics. The Motion Picture Association of America estimates that piracy in the United States alone costs the industry $20.5 billion dollars per year.
An older study (opens in new tab) (2003) found that stronger copyright laws could add as many as 1.5 million jobs to the global economy, and generate $400 billion dollars in economic growth. Given how much conditions have changed over the last ten years, and how piracy has proliferated, up-to-date numbers could potentially be much higher.
Fact is, as more and more data and information moves online, the risk of piracy will continue to increase. Either that, or law enforcement will have to increase substantially, and on a global scale. In some countries, such as China, pirated software, for example, makes up more than 80 per cent (opens in new tab) of all copies of a given software program.
Furthermore, while piracy does give people access to free movies, software programs, and other forms of media, it also threatens the underlying economics that make media production profitable. If this profit drive is severely restricted, the industry’s capabilities will likewise be hindered.