For the past week, tech sites have been reporting hysterically on a new app called Popcorn Time, which is being referred to as video piracy's "Napster moment." What it seems the press is missing is that video's Napster moment came and went a long time ago.
Popcorn Time functions like Netflix, except instead of streaming licensed versions of content with complex pay schemas, it simply streams torrents of the video from around the web. This has made content owners understandably nervous. It only lasted a week before the folks behind it shut it down, but the code has ended up on the software collaboration site Github, and it is available for users to install.
After reading about Popcorn Time, I was curious only if it granted me access to some kind of special content I can't find anywhere else. I asked PJ if he would use it, and he said "I don't really need to." And there's a good reason for that. Pirates have no need to download an app and search its limited library for, say, the latest episode of The Walking Dead because they already have the ultimate killer piracy app at their fingertips. Google "Walking Dead Streaming" and you'll be watching the show in seconds without installing anything.
I suppose Popcorn Time could be cataclysmic in that it removes that last, tiny technical barrier when it comes to bittorrent, but with the proliferation of streaming sites, that barrier was basically gone a long time ago. To freak out about Popcorn Time feels to me like saying where cassettes didn't kill the recording industry, CD-Rs will. It's a slight refinement that makes one type of piracy easier where so many were already so easy.