The most popular version of Popcorn Time—an online streaming service considered the “Netflix for piracy“—has shut down.
The website and application of Popcorn Time’s main fork, PopcornTime.io, stopped working on Oct. 23, following an exodus of engineers who abandoned the project fearing legal ramifications, reports Torrent Freak. A developer told the site that he had shut down the servers and deleted its logs.
People will still be able to stream pirated movies and shows from the service using other versions of the application. Because Popcorn Time is an open-source project, developers have created multiple “forks,” or versions, by copying and modifying the code base. “It’s kind of hard to shut down an open-source project because anyone can throw up a copy at any time and keep it working,” PopcornTime.io developer Robert “Red” English told Actuality, a podcast produced by Quartz and Marketwatch, in April.
The developers who left were worried that the upcoming launch of a paid product, a virtual private network service, would expose them to lawsuits. As a free app, PopcornTime.io, which included many of the original Popcorn Time team members, insisted it had no control over the content and that it merely provided a free service. Still, it warned users that downloading copyrighted content could be illegal in their countries.
PopcornTime.io, which had previously shunned making a profit, might have become a bigger target for lawsuits once it started generating revenue, according to Torrent Freak. “I doubt Popcorn Time will ever be monetized,” English told Actuality in April. “We’re here to make an application that the community wants rather than what can be profitable as a business.”
Popcorn Time’s Twitter account has directed users to a new service called Butter, which it says uses the same core technology to stream legal content.