Streaming movies online has never been easier than it’s nowadays. We can choose from a wide range of platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney Plus, and many more. There’s just one tiny little problem; for many people, these sites are too expensive.
Fortunately for them, there are still plenty of streaming sites that offer free content, even after the most famous one of them called Flixtor shut down in 2014. People are still searching for Flixtor alternatives so that they’re not forced to spend their money on SVOD and VOD services. But are these free streaming movie sites legal? The answer is more complicated than expected.
(Guide) Are Streaming Movie Sites Legal or Not?
Pirates of the Streaming Services –
The demand for free streaming services is gargantuan, and there are numbers to prove it. Remember a little, family-friendly show called Game of Thrones? Of course, you do. Within 24 hours from the premiere of the shows’ finale, more than 71 million people had watched it. Seventy-five percent of them did it by using pirated streams and downloads, which means that more than 54 million people watched it for free.
Of course, it doesn’t only refer to Game of Thrones. Millions of people visit those sites on a daily basis. In 2015, free streaming movie sites had more than an average of 78.5 billion visits every month.
These numbers may even begin to increase with more SVOD platforms entering the market. Why? Because to watch your favorite shows and movies, you might need to buy access to two or three different platforms. Free streaming movie sites usually offer a wide range of productions in one place. More people may choose that way of watching then, even though it’s considered immoral.
Legality vs Morality –
Let’s clear something up. Watching movies, TV shows, and sporting events are not considered illegal. Yes, you’ve read it right. Watching an unauthorized stream doesn’t violate any laws. We’re talking about streaming here, of course, and not downloading unlicensed content. That is a different kettle of fish.
While streaming doesn’t technically violate copyright laws, downloading, on the other hand, does. That’s because every time you make a download, you also make an illegal copy, and the Copyright Act of 1976 clearly states that only copyright holders can make exclusive copies, distribute them, and perform publicly.
The same law applies to host an unauthorized stream. Therefore, sites that offer free streaming movies can be considered illegal. That’s why these sites do everything they can to avoid being penalized and shut down. A most common tactic is using links to different sites hosting streams. Thanks to that, they do not act as hosts of streams and are not doing anything illegal. Clever, right?
Now let’s talk about the morality of these actions. Sites that offer free, unauthorized content are to put it into the right words, stealing from copyright owners. We’re not talking about thousands or even millions of dollars a year. We’re talking about an estimated cost of 250 billion dollars a year. And even though technically you’re not breaking the law by watching an unauthorized stream, you still make your own contribution to the whole process of stealing this money—a little food for your thought.
Safety Concerns –
Streaming sites, especially those with a not so good reputation, can be dangerous for you and your computer. It’s safe to say that if these pages steal content from authorized providers, they may not want to stop just there.
Sites like this are often full of many ads and links to websites that want to gain access to your personal information. In 2015, a non-profit organization called Digital Citizens Alliance researched that illegal streaming sites exposed more than thirty percent of their users to malware. The same report also stated that by doing this, these sites earn more or less 70 million dollars a year.
We can’t put all of the free streaming movie sites into one bag, of course. But the chances are that you may expose yourself to grave risk by using them.
Free streaming movie sites are still viral among internet users, and there are no signs of lowering the demand for them. And while technically by watching streams that they offer you don’t break any law, remember that the content on them is unauthorized. That means that the legality of these websites has to be challenged. They are also often full of viruses and links to sites that want to steal your data. That’s why if you don’t want to pay for any platform subscription, and no arguments can stop you from watching movies free, you’d better do in-depth research of pages offering free streaming services before accessing one.