Piracy site Popcorn Time almost as popular as Netflix in Netherlands
No other country in the world shows as much interest in Popcorn Time as the Netherlands. In a letter to its shareholders, Netflix states that it is "sobering" that Popcorn Time is almost as popular as Netflix in the Netherlands. It is estimated that Popcorn Time is used by 100 thousand Dutch people daily. According to market researcher Digital TV Research, Netflix has 700 thousand subscribers.
The illegal video service, of which the managers are unknown, offers all brand new TV series and feature films. Popcorn Time also has a slick design and is very user friendly. Its range is much larger than legal variants like Netflix and HBO. These American services have to negotiate with film companies to be able to offer the latest titles. Popcorn Time is also free, which the other two aren't.
Popcorn Time is a disaster for services like Netflix. According to download expert Joost Poort of the University of Amsterdam, the Dutch film industry suffers an annual loss of more than 78 million euros due to pirates like Popcorn Time.
Because of its anonymity, Popcorn Time is difficult to fight legally. The foundation Brein, which acts on behalf of producers and distributors against infringement of copyright, could go to court, which could oblige internet service providers to block access to Popcorn Time, but it is questionable whether it would ever go that far. State Secretary Fred Teeven is waiting on a ruling on the prohibition of a similar site - The Pirate Bay. That case is still pending in the Supreme Court, a ruling is probably expected in April.
According to Poort, closure will not be very effective. The only solution is for legitimate businesses to compete with a range as complete as the range offered by Popcorn Time. According to Poort, Popcorn Time makes "streaming" from illegal sources easier than ever before. "That is the concern of the paid services. Users with limited technical knowledge may fail to realize that it is illegal. Popcorn Time knows a form of editorial interference. With that they seem all the more like a neat provider and not an anarchist platform like The Pirate Bay."
According to the programmers of Popcorn Time, they are not in it for the money. "We do not accept donations and do not sell ads", an anonymous spokesperson said in an email, Trouw reports. "The programmers pay everything out of their own pocket. We do this because we believe in the project and want to see it thrive."