The most popular way of accessing the popular "Netflix for torrents" service PopcornTime abruptly went down last week when European regulators suspended the domain registration for Time4Popcorn.eu. In a message today, the anonymous devs behind the service say it's back—and won't be permanently shut down ever.
You can now find PopcornTime at Popcorn-time.se. (You'll recognize that .se in the address as the same Swedish top-level domain that currently lists notorious torrent index, The Pirate Bay.) After the domain was shut down, the PopcornTime's apps stopped working across platforms because as TorrentFreak points out, the apps need the domain to load their UI. But if you download updated versions, they should all work by now. I just tried it out on Mac and it's working.
Despite PopcornTime's defiant statement that it will never be taken down, the devs are surprisingly open about the fact that they need Google juice to survive. They're asking people to update links and to broadly share the new URL, so that their search rank improves and cancels out the old Time4popcorn domain.
Google or not, PopcornTime's prompt resurgence seems to confirm the long held notion that stamping out domains and links doesn't do much to stop privacy. The team (teams?) working on PopcornTime has been remarkably good at evading throttling ISPs and regulators alike with their code. The service even has built-in VPN to help users maintain their anonymity.
I asked PopcornTime what they were going to do to prevent future takedowns of this kind. Their response:
We cannot say we have a fail proof plan on how to avoid this kind of action in the future. At the bottom line if someone who's powerful enough wants to close your domain, most chances that they'll find a way to do so.
What we can do and are doing as of our upcoming release, beta 5.0, is to first proof the software in a way that our domain getting taken down won't effect our existing users. This is already happening now, and from this point on an attack like this on our domain will have no effect on our users.
We'll be watching for the regulators' next move. [Popcorn-time.se]