How to use Popcorn Time Safely in The Netherlands

Last Updated by Shelby Taylor on August 30, 2018

Popcorn Time isn’t just a great idea when you sit down to watch your favorite flick; it’s also a revolutionary multi-platform, openware BitTorrent client that first took the world by storm in 2014 and has continued to be popular despite frequent attempts from multiple lawmaking organizations to shut it down. It is currently legal to possess Popcorn Time software in The Netherlands, but it is illegal to upload or download files to it. Despite this fact, there are ways to use it for Dutch residents that keep the user safe while enjoying the app’s full pantheon of selections.

A Brief History of Popcorn Time

Popcorn Time started as a kernel of an idea by a group of programmers in Argentina who combined the best of BitTorrent’s shareability with the clean, colorful look of Netflix. Not only could users upload and download movies and media, but it also used an interface of titles and thumbnails similar to Netflix that made it very easy to use. Popcorn Time also provides a player to watch files on, making it more of a one-stop shop than the traditional BitTorrent software. Available for nearly every platform, including Linux, Mac, Windows, and Android, Popcorn Time made an immediate splash with mainstream media attention from The Washington Post, CBS News, and PC Magazine.

Just as quickly, Popcorn Time came under siege on the legal environment. By March 2014, its original website and coinciding GitHub repository were gone. Its creators said that legal threats and debates about copyright violations were not something they were interested in.

Fortunately for users, they left the open software code and other groups forked it – meaning they copied the base code and started their own versions of Popcorn Time. In 2015, the original owners endorsed popcorntime.io as their choice to carry on the Popcorn Time name.

Popcorn Time vs. The Courts

While admirers and successors were propagating the Popcorn Time in other locations, the legal powers across the world were gearing up against them. Between April and August of 2015, courts in the UK, Israel, Denmark, and Germany all ordered their countries’ ISPs to shut down access to various incarnations of Popcorn Time. Israel reversed the ban after realizing it could not block users who had already downloaded the software. Law enforcement in Denmark suffered a black eye when two arrests were made as popcorntime.dk was shut down, only to realize that the website was not affiliated with the developers and only provided information about the service.

In the same time interval, The Netherlands also banned its ISP from granting access to Popcorn Time, no surprise given how the country had treated other torrenting sites, including The Pirate Bay.

In the few years since Popcorn Time first entered common use,  eight other websites offering the same service have been shut down based on legal rulings. Its community of users and developers keeps it afloat, with Popcorn Time CE and popcorntime.sh still humming along at present.

Using VPN to Access Popcorn Time

Attempting to access Popcorn Time from the typical Internet setup in The Netherlands will result in an error message and a warning from your ISP. That is not the case if you choose to download a virtual private network (VPN). Browsing the Internet with a VPN is a bit like flying a stealth bomber in that while people might know you’re inside, they can’t see or hear where the plane is going. VPNs work by connecting your computer to a remote server in a country outside of The Netherlands’ jurisdiction. All of the requests you make on the Internet and all of the data you download from them passes through this remote server in encrypted packets.

When you choose a VPN provider, such as NordVPN, you download the app and use it to select a remote server. NordVPN is one of the top providers in that is has more than 4,400 servers in more than 60 countries. Once the connection is secure, everything you request online is encrypted and sent to the remote server. There it is decrypted and paired with a new IP address, which then sends it to the Popcorn Time service. When you begin downloading files from Popcorn Time, the data travels through the remote server, gets encrypted, then comes to your device, where it is decrypted.

Since websites like Popcorn Time are illegal in The Netherlands, it is essential to use a high-caliber VPN such as IPVanish. IPVanish uses the same level of encryption practiced by the US government and has a kill switch to sever your connection if the VPN drops. Speed is also essential when using a streaming service like Popcorn Time. ExpressVPN continually has the best download speeds in the market thanks to servers in 94 countries and unlimited bandwidth availability.

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Shelby Taylor
Shelby is an enthusiastic world traveler. While she holds a degree in Physics and Astronomy with an emphasis in Astrophysics/minor in mathematics - she has found a new passion in the world of cybersecurity, online freedom, and marketing in the tech industry.