Late last year the main Popcorn Time fork, operating from the PopcornTime.io domain name, shut down its website unexpectedly.
The MPAA took credit for the fall announcing that it had filed a lawsuit against several of the developers in Canada. In response to these legal threats several key developers backed out.
Since the initial announcement there hasn’t been much news about the project. However, that changed a few hours ago.
It began when the outdated versions of the PopcornTime.io fork received a surprise update, noting that “Hail Hydra” was installed. Following this update the application became fully operational again without any significant issues.
The main changes in the new version appear to be that it’s based on the code from Popcorn Time’s ‘legal’ spin-off Butter and that it no longer promotes the VPN service VPN.ht.
Soon after the update there was additional confirmation of a ‘comeback.’ The official GitHub repository was updated with a new working version and now points to PopcornTime.sh as the new home, as does the official Twitter account.
The MPAA is not going to be happy with the surprise return, but indirectly they did take part in it. The code used to update the old application used the Its.pt domain name (mirror).
This domain uses four nameservers (ptn.sh, ptn.re. ptn.wf and ptm.pm) which are all controlled and owned by the MPAA. The MPAA obtained these domains as a result of the legal action in Canada and could have updated them.
The MPAA probably isn’t behind the comeback, but who is? TorrentFreak spoke with most key members of the old Popcorntime.io team, some of who were sued by the MPAA, and all deny being behind it.
Popcorn Time developer Wally, who also founded the VPN.ht service, previously told us that he was working on a comeback. He is one of the members of the core team that wasn’t sued by the MPAA, although his name was mentioned in the complaint.
However, when asked about the current comeback Wally denied all involvement.
What’s clear is that the new PopcornTime version is signed with the same private keys as the previous .io fork, keys that belong to the PopcornTime.io project.
After going around in circles it appears that no one is willing to take credit for the return. Perhaps wise, as the MPAA will be watching the developments closely. At the same time, however, this mystery may also be a bit uneasy for the software’s users.
While some may see it as a victory the comeback also adds to an increasingly complex Popcorn Time web. With several forks and new domain names popping up, shutting down and targeting each other in recent months, it has been hard to keep up.