Piracy app launches child-friendly mode amid lockdown streaming surge

Anthony Cuthbertson
Popcorn Time, one of the world's most popular online piracy sites, has launched a child-friendly version of its streaming service: Getty Images/iStockphoto

A popular app dubbed the “Netflix of piracy” has launched a child-friendly mode that filters out inappropriate content, as online pirates seek to profit from a recent surge in streaming.

The new feature in Popcorn Time appears to be borrowed from similar parental controls on legitimate streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

Much of the content hosted on Popcorn Time is also taken from its legal counterparts, offering users a free but illegal way to watch streams and torrents of films and TV shows.

“The applications provide a free alternative to subscription-based video streaming services such as Netflix,” the app states on its website.

“Popcorn Time is constantly searching all over the web for the best torrents from the most important sites... If the movie or TV show is out there, Popcorn Time will find the best version possible and start streaming it right away.”

Popcorn Time also includes a warning about the legal implications of its service, stating: ”Downloading copyrighted material may be illegal in your country. Use at your own risk.”

With much of the world under some form of lockdown to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus, both streaming platforms and piracy sites have experienced a massive spike in popularity

Netflix added a record 15.7 million subscribers in the first three months of 2020, while piracy tracking firm Muso revealed a 60 per cent increase to illegal streaming and download sites between February and March.

“Piracy sites across the globe are profiting from the backlog of content being made available by legitimate streaming providers, stealing and adding the content to their own libraries,” said Mark Mulready, vice president of cyber services at anti-piracy firm Irdeto.

“We have even seen examples of piracy sites offering their subscribers discounts and advertising deals such as ‘Covid-19 Specials’ and ‘Self-Isolation Offers’. It is these illegitimate sites that are causing far more harm to the legitimate industry, and indirectly our already suffering economies.”

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Coronavirus lockdown sees massive surge in piracy