Apart from a delicious and healthy dairy product Butter is the latest big development within the Popcorn Time universe. As most of you already know the official Popcorn Time fork is currently down and might never get back up. Initially it was unclear why the service was shut down and at first it was thought the reason was internal turmoil caused by the affiliation with VPN provider VPN.ht. Since then information has come out that the real reason is a lawsuit that’s basically “Hollywood” vs. Popcorn Time. The MPAA is understandably very excited about this development and it’s going to be interesting to follow the case.
Not all members of the Popcorn Time devs are discouraged by the lawsuit and have immediately founded the Butter project. Butter works just like Popcorn Time did (and still does) by playing video files as they are simultaneously downloaded from and shared to the Bittorrent network. From the looks of Butter screenshots (the service isn’t available to the public yet) it also seems that Butter will look a lot if not exactly like Popcorn Time so what’s the difference really?
To understand this you need to understand how some of Popcorn Time Works. The menus in Popcorn Time aren’t an integrated part of the software itself but are populated from third-party websites that index torrent files. By changing the direction of this link the content of the menus can be changed in an instant. Butter will on the surface be significantly different from Popcorn Time by populating the content menus from third-party websites that only index non-copyrighted movies and TV shows.
This will apparently render Butter pointless to the majority of Popcorn Time users that have primarily used the service to illegally download, watch and share recent releases that are protected by copyrights. However, by allowing the use of plugins Butter can extremely easily be modified to populate the menus with copyright protected content essentially turning it in to an exact copy of Popcorn Time.
The idea is that this small but significant change will make Butter impervious to legal action since the software can only be used to break the law if the users themselves make the required modification. It seems like a decent plan but if it’ll hold up in a court room is quite often an entirely different question.
Other changes to Butter worth mentioning is the removal of the integrated VPN (also to make it a smaller target for legal repercussions) and greater transparence of the development process.
The Butter website is up and running but so far no software has been released.