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'Popcorn Time for Porn' Lets You Stop Giving Money to Shady Tube Sites

It doesn't necessarily make watching free porn online any easier, but it could be more ethical.

by Jordan Pearson
Jun 8 2015, 3:54pm

Image: Flickr/kate mccarthy

Porn Time is a new multi-platform app with a slick, Netflix-style interface for streaming pirated smut based on the popular Popcorn Time source code. Of course this exists, right? The internet is for porn, after all.

To wit, it is really, really easy to watch free porn on the internet. Try it right now if you don't think you'll get fired for it: just search "porn" in Google and boom, you will be well on your way to watching naked people gyrate in front of a camera for money. This is not hard to do for almost anyone.

So, why should you even bother downloading an app to do what you already can get in your browser with ease? You might want to consider the ethics of the alternative: tube sites.

Tube sites—sites that aggregate porn videos from across the internet and host them for playback, along with a ton of ads—are ubiquitous on the internet, and their prevalence is largely what makes watching porn online so easy. Even so, some porn stars really, really don't like them. Many of these sites just steal other peoples' videos and then monetize them with ads. Otherwise, the main concern is that the tube site market is extremely insular.

MindGeek is by far the largest tube company out there, and it was actually called a "monopoly" in a 2014 Slate profile. The company owns or operates the sites Pornhub, XTube, RedTube, and YouPorn, just to name a few. The company also owns production studios like Brazzers, Reality Kings, and Digital Playgrounds, among others. That is called vertical integration, kids.

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Stoya, a writer, entrepreneur, and porn star, recently explained in an interview with Motherboard why she supports people torrenting her work instead of giving companies like MindGeek more money.

"This is very much a specifically 'porn' thing: [some tube sites] leverage a network of tube sites to devalue the entire industry," Stoya said at the time. "When any one person or company in the United States—and we do treat companies disturbingly like people—has half of the power in a large group, that's a problem."

It's not clear that the people behind Porn Time had any of this in mind when they decided to start the project, but an anti-corporate impulse permeates past Popcorn Time-associated projects—like the iOS Installer that lets anyone download a non-approved app to their iPhone—and torrenting itself.

The original Popcorn Time and its open source offshoots have offered a slick interface for streaming movie torrents for a while now. The interface was the service's big selling point, because it made pirating something that even the most technologically illiterate person could do. At the very least, pirating requires you to download a software client to manage your downloads, and you need to know where to find torrent files.

While Porn Time might not necessarily make watching porn online any easier than it already is, it makes watching torrented porn way more accessible. And to some people, that really matters.