It’s generally safe to install Popcorn Time as long as you download it from its official website. Using a VPN while streaming movies in it will make it even safer. It has several mirror versions (called forks) that may contain malware and viruses. It’s best to avoid these rogue Popcorn Time apps, however attractive their “extra features” may seem.
But how do you identify the official site? What VPN is best for Popcorn Time? Is this all legal in the US and other countries? Let’s find out.
Is Popcorn Time Legal?
Popcorn Time’s legality is debatable. Downloading and installing the app on your device is safe, but watching copyrighted movies on it can be considered illegal. It depends on local laws governing piracy and copyright infringement, along with how strict the enforcers are.
Assume you are in the United States and are streaming a recent Hollywood blockbuster on Popcorn Time. You are essentially consuming and therefore pirating copyrighted content. Using Popcorn Time is just like torrenting but without the trouble of searching for torrents with a high seed-peer ratio. it is illegal and if you are caught you may be accused of copyright infringement.
Popcorn Time – called the “free Netflix for pirated movies” – uses P2P connections (torrents) to download and stream movies. As you might know, when you download via a torrent file, you also upload small portions of the downloaded file back. This makes you a participant in the whole process.
However, you should note that being caught and convicted is the worst-case scenario. Going by Popcorn Time’s checkered history, if the MPAA ever comes back to bite, it will first strike the app’s owners. This was the case in 2014.
That is where a virtual private network (VPN) can help you. When you connect Popcorn Time via a VPN, it essentially hides your IP address and encrypts your communication with the internet. This not only makes you anonymous but also a bit difficult for law enforcement to track your activities. Then it won’t matter if you stream the BluRay version of the latest Bond movie or save the file for future personal consumption.
Note – There is a feature in Popcorn Time that deletes the cache and downloaded film files when you exit the app. This may give a false sense of protection, but you may still be caught for piracy. Without a VPN, your IP address can still be visible in the public torrent trackers.
Which Popcorn Time Is Safe to Use?
At the time of writing, the official website of Popcorn Time was www.popcorntime.app. Officially known as Popcorn Software, it is also available to safely download for free from the official GitHub page. If a website asks you to pay to download, close the site immediately. Popcorn Software has always been a free service.
The rogue, mirror versions we mentioned above look exactly the same as the real Popcorn Software. You should stay away from such applications.Note – Depending on your location, the official site may be inaccessible sometimes. Instead of Googling, we recommend downloading the software from GitHub. Link above.
Warning – Popcorn Software is only available for Windows, macOS, Android, Android TV, and Linux devices. It does not support Amazon Firestick, Roku TV, or any other streaming device.
In case you are unable to download from the official platforms, we recommend using this fork. We tested this version (Windows) for malware and other security lapses and it came out clean. Please use this only as a last resort.
Two Safety Aspects About Popcorn Software
When you talk about safety around Popcorn Time, there are two things to consider. The software you use and the content you stream. As long as you download and install from the official site, you are safe. That’s the easy part.
Trouble starts when you stream the latest popular movies via the app. When you do this, your IP address gets added to the public tracker (peer list) of the torrent used to download the movie. If the producer of the movie (or anyone, really) is spying on the tracker, you risk being caught and subpoenaed (court summons). To avoid this, we recommend using a high-quality VPN.
That brings us to the next question.
Why Do You Need a VPN to Use Popcorn Time Safely?
You need a VPN to make yourself anonymous while using Popcorn Time. It safeguards you and your computer while streaming movies by replacing your IP address with an arbitrary server IP. It uses an encrypted tunnel to transfer your traffic via another server (that’s usually located in another country). You can also optionally change your location while streaming to divert the attention of interceptors. These include hackers, law enforcers, trade associations like MPAA and DMCA, and production houses.
For example, if you are streaming on Popcorn Time from Canada, you can choose to change your location to India or Sweden using a VPN. This protects you from possible infringement strike emails and court summons.
When you have a VPN installed, you can stream carefree. This makes spending on a good-quality VPN fully worthwhile.
Best VPNs for Popcorn Time
Now that you know the perils of using Popcorn Time without a VPN, let’s quickly go through the top five VPNs recommended for torrenting.
There are two things that make NordVPN the #1 choice for Popcorn Time. They are special torrenting (P2P) servers and negligible speed throttling. This means you can enjoy your original internet speed without worrying about a strong tracker connection. No buffering, no lagging. Its NordLynx protocol provides better protection from hackers and copyright agents who will find it difficult to intercept your torrenting communication.
Additionally, the kill switch feature in NordVPN will ensure that you are always connected to one of its P2P servers. If it detects a problem with your connection, it automatically shuts down the internet. This is a must-have feature for Popcorn Time that is missing even in some of the well-known VPN services.
Note – A no-logs policy is non-negotiable when shopping for a VPN. You don’t want the VPN to betray you.
Marketed as “the world’s most-trusted VPN”, Sweden-based PrivateVPN is a relatively new name. But it still packs a punch with its impeccable unblocking prowess, a strict no-logs policy, and user-friendly apps. For instance, PrivateVPN labels some of its servers so that you can choose the ideal one. Need the best VPN server to unblock Netflix in the UK? PrivateVPN will help you with that deed.
The only grip we have is its small server network. It has just over 150 servers in 62 countries, which do not match that of the behemoths such as NordVPN and ExpressVPN. However, if you like user-friendly software and anticipate a lot of streaming site unblocking, PrivateVPN is a good bet.
A diverse server network, no-logs policy, and unlimited bandwidth are what make ExpressVPN the second-best VPN for Popcorn Time. We like ExpressVPN’s ‘nearby server’ feature where it automatically assigns an IP address based on our preference. This is a clever feature that is useful when you face trouble connecting to Popcorn Time’s trackers.
Unfortunately, ExpressVPN does not have a kill switch for all operating systems. If you are like us and watch your movies in bits and pieces, get ExpressVPN. The lack of a kill switch then won’t matter much.
Surfshark is similar to ExpressVPN with the advantage of economical pricing. You can buy Surfshark VPN even if you are low on budget. It is also one of the very few providers that audits its VPN infrastructure regularly to improve user security. This is a rarity in the online privacy world.
Just like NordVPN, Surfshark also offers high-speed connections, a kill switch, and a multi-hopping feature. However, it does not support port forwarding, which can be a deal-breaker for daily torrenters. On the plus side, Surfshark is the best yet the cheapest VPN for Popcorn Time among the top three we have reviewed here.
Note – If you have thought of using the built-in VPN (VPN.ht) with Popcorn Time, we recommend buying Surfshark instead. It’s proven, cheaper, and has good customer support.
Private Internet Access (PIA)
Last on our list is Private Internet Access, a torrent-friendly VPN with all the functions needed for carefree Popcorn Time use. Along with a wide server network, it boasts high-speed uploads, port forwarding, and a neat user interface. Beginners can opt for PIA if they are looking for a better VPN infrastructure, compared to Surfshark’s economical offering.
- Block ads, trackers, and malware
- Can be used with 10 devices simultaneously
- Unlimited Bandwidth
- 3200+ Servers in 29 Countries
- No Traffic or Request logs
- 7-day money-back guarantee
Tips to Stay Safe While Streaming on Popcorn Software
Prevention is always better than cure. It’s better to safeguard yourself and limit/customize your Popcorn Time activities than to end up with a virus on your device. Here are some actionable tips for first-time users:
- Download Popcorn Software only from the official site (links given above)
- Never download or agree to download additional apps/codecs within Popcorn Time
- Always switch on the VPN before loading the Popcorn Software
- Avoid the built-in VPN
- Use anti-virus and anti-malware software
- Advanced users may set up a sandbox to run Popcorn Time
If you are like us and want it easy, simply do this: download from the official site, install, and use a VPN while streaming. You are set!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Here are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about Popcorn Time’s safety.
Can I get in trouble for using Popcorn Time?
Not if you use a VPN to stream. Using Popcorn Time involves piracy, which is illegal in several countries. If you get caught streaming copyrighted content, you may land in trouble. A VPN essentially hides your IP address so that you don’t get caught.
Why does Popcorn Time not work with my VPN?
It works with most VPNs. Try selecting another server in another region or contact customer support.
Is Popcorn Time safe to download and install?
Yes, Popcorn Time is 100% safe to use. Just install a VPN and use it while streaming to protect yourself from copyright strikes.
Does Popcorn Time work in 2021?
Yes, Popcorn Time was shut down briefly in 2014 but its GitHub official page is still running.
Does it have viruses?
No, the official version does not have any viruses or malware.
Is it legal in my country/state?
Unlikely. If your country/state allows free exchange of copyrighted content, then Popcorn Time will most likely be legal. Unfortunately, this is not the case in the majority of the countries such as the United States of America, United Kingdom, India, Dubai, Australia, and others.
Can I use Popcorn Time without a VPN?
You may but it is not recommended. When you use Popcorn Time without a VPN, you end up making your IP address public. This can be used to charge you for copyright infringement that can lead to punishment such as penalty and/or jail time. It’s rare but it’s possible.
Can I get hacked through Popcorn Time?
Yes, it is possible to be a victim of hacking when you use Popcorn Time. Hackers usually target and intercept random users, which can be via a fork version of the BitTorrent service or a codec download request. To prevent a hack, use a VPN.