PEEK: A behind the scenes battle of the two groups behind popcorn time
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The two groups that have made use of Popcorn Time’s open source battle over legitimacy. Who is right and who even cares?

Credit: screenshot

Credit: screenshot

At the beginning of March we were the first to introduce Popcorn Time, an open source project that offers a convenient interface to watch movies and later on television series, based on the bittorrent protocol. Since then, many development groups have recognized an opportunity and have decided to make use of the open source of Popcorn Time and build new projects based on the same principle. Now, there is a struggle between users of the same underlying code of Popcorn Time, each declaring a “Popcorn War” on the other.

First, there is get-Popcorn.com, the “next generation” of the original Popcorn Time project, which closed abruptly after receiving an enormous buzz in the media. We call them the next generation because some developers who belonged to the original project’s development team are here. Although Popcorn Time was at first just for watching movies, this version of get-popcorn.com introduced the possibility to also watch television shows. It opposes a clone version of Popcorn Time, a program called Time4Popcorn, which was developed by a completely different set of people and it included TV series long before that was made ​​possible through Popcorn Time.

Popcorn Time’s side

It all started through a discussion on the social network Reddit, which was opened by username pepjin89. The discussion lists a number of alternatives to the Popcorn Time service with ways to watch movies and TV series for free. In the post, the user wrote that he or she does not recommend installing Time4Popcorn, claiming “Time4Popcorn has stolen most of its code from our amazing contributors” without giving credit and “Time4Popcorn has disabled all coding exept [sic] for the nodewebkit, they refer to a server to watch movies.” In fact, the distribution of Time4Popcorn is a website called app.time4popcorn.eu and pepjin89 alleged that “This server’s code can be taken offline and made into a honeypot for the feds or to steal your bank account.”

The developers at get-popcorn.com also assert that Time4Popcorn never showed intent to merge with get-poopcorn.com or even discuss the matter. “They just kept telling us that they are on our side, they did not steal any code and if we have a problem we can ‘send them an email.’” In addition, they argue that the second distribution stole their website and they are not professional graphics users, which they say could indicate the questionable reliability of Time4Popcorn. “The truth is that they are ripping off some of our community work without crediting the authors. We would obviously have no concerns if they acknowledged the source of the work, as Popcorn Time is an open source project. The latest example being how they compiled in their app 5 days of our UI work,” wrote get-popcorn.com on it popcorntimewar.com.

Credit: screenshot

Credit: screenshot

Response from the team at Time4Popcorn

After our last article, which warned users to exercise judgment when choosing to install Time4Popcorn, the project developers contacted me via e-mail to address the [email protected]: “We did not really liked the article you did on your site on Popcorn Time…That’s not true, and unfair. We hope that you will know to report a balanced picture of the situation. Anyway, Popcorn Time is going to be a blast, no matter what happens.”

“The past two weeks we have witnessed an unprecedented attack, designed to destroy everything we’ve worked so hard on for two months.”

“A team of 20 developers who like to use the word ‘officially’ made us their worst enemy and frankly, we do not know why. We have nothing against this team, except reverence for the great work they do. We tried to extend a friendly hand to them and tell them we’re in the same boat, but unfortunately they were not willing to listen to us.”

“No personal data is collected by us, except anonymous enumeration of how people use our application,” they wrote regarding the claim that the software is spyware that collects information about its users. “They claimed it was dangerous that we use a web application under app.time4popcorn.eu. Well – This is our way of ensuring that while we continue to work on improving the app we will update the new features quickly, without being dependent on downloading files to your computer.”

“We see this as the attempt of many to bring us down,” the statement said. “So, this is the opportunity to prove that the words we wrote and in which we believe: We are here to stay. Fact, the only reason whereupon we’re not sitting and encoding in quiet is to put the finishing touch on our Android app, and that technology sites asked our response to the other team’s claims against us. We are writing to protect ourselves from a group of developers who spend their time on charges instead of working on the amazing project they have undertaken. “

Big Winners are the users

The main argument from get-popcorn.com is that during its development, a versions of Time4Popcorn continued to be updated on the basis of the development work by get-popcorn.com. A short investigation shows that Time4Popcorn released its development as an open source when it was last updated 9 days ago, which leads to the conclusion that perhaps the developers of Time4Popcorn were pressed by a little public pressure and decided to please the journalists. Still, behind the scenes they continue to work on the code for Time4Popcorn themselves and share it with their community. This is their right, and yet – the activity does not result in too much sympathy. On the other hand, there is still no evidence that Time4Popcorn is harmful in any way or that it can steal personal information from users.

Now, it remains to be seen whether the promise of Time4Popcorn’s Android versions with support Chromecast, along with extensions for Chrome and for Firefox will be released soon, and whether it will be released under open source or not. In any case, it seems that competition encourages the parties and the war’s big winners “are ultimately the users who could care less whether one team steals another’s distribution code, they enjoy a variety of alternatives and can decide for themselves which distribution is right for them. Anyway, when it comes to installing software via piracy, ethics and safety are real issues and it’s important to keep vigilant and look out for any suspicious activity on your computer.”

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Avishay Bassa

About Avishay Bassa


Seasoned web developer, Gadget freak and loves everything Google, Android and open source. Avishay is the guy in charge of dismantling every new gadget that dares step into our office and hopefully put it back together and write a review about it afterwards.

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  • I just go with what works best for me. time4popcorn is my choice at the moment due to chromecast support. until one of these competitors get’s chromecast support and maybe a larger library of torrents to choose from (why not thepiratebay), time4popcorn will remain the best choice.. Until then…..