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Can You Get Caught for Illegal Streaming?

Can you get caught for illegal streaming

There are now more options than ever for streaming video content. Whether we want movies, television shows, sports, or anything else, we can choose from services like Netflix, Hulu, Sling, Disney+, Apple TV+, and more. But there is even more content available if you divert from the mainstream.

Whether you are looking for content not found elsewhere or don’t want to pay hefty monthly subscription charges, you may be tempted by some of the less official services like Popcorn Time, Kodi, Duckie TV, and others.

People considering using services like these usually have some questions. How safe are these unofficial streaming sites? If you decide to wade into the gray areas of streaming, what are your chances of getting caught? Also, what are the potential consequences of getting caught?  Also, can you get in trouble with the law if you’re caught?

Whether you want to know where the line is legally, or you are looking to mitigate your risk, answering these questions may help you decide how you will handle your content streaming.

What Is Illegal Streaming?

Illegal streaming is the streaming of illegal copies of movies and TV shows without the copyright owner’s permission. For example, if you use YTS.mx (one of the best torrent sites for movies) to stream a recently released blockbuster, that’s a form of illegal streaming.

Illegal streaming happens in different ways:

  • Modified streaming hardware devices — shady resellers sell modified set-top boxes. These devices provide access to unauthorized add-ons, which allow you to watch pirated movies and TV shows.
  • Social media — people often share links that allow you to watch pirated content on social media sites like Facebook.
  • YouTube — some people upload videos of movies and TV shows on their YouTube channels without the copyright owner’s permission.
  • Unauthorized sites and apps — P2P sites and apps offer the option to illegally stream and download copyrighted content. 

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Are Illegal Streaming Sites Safe?

No. If you are looking for safety, you should stick with the safe harbor of the paid streaming providers. While there is nothing on the internet that is 100% safe, services like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+ work to give you a safe and totally legal streaming experience.

However, if you do want to explore the riskier side of streaming, it is good to know where the dangers lurk.

You mainly face legal risks. Sites that host and stream unlicensed TV shows and sports are usually illegal. Interacting with their streams isn’t illegal in all parts of the world unless the stream uses P2P technology. In that case, you’re likely to break copyright laws in most countries and face big fines.

However, even if you access a non-P2P unlicensed stream and it’s legal to do so in your country, you’re still not safe. Unauthorized sites that host sports and TV shows might expose you to malware and phishing, which can endanger your private data.

Is Streaming Movies Illegal in the US?

Yes and no — it really depends on how you are streaming the movies. Obviously, if you are using legitimate streaming sites like Netflix, Disney+, and Amazon Prime, you are not breaking any laws. 

If you are watching an unlicensed movie stream in the US, you are also not breaking the law, contrary to what most people would tell you. We checked what many lawyers posted online, and we also looked into the Protecting Lawful Streaming Act (PLSA) of 2021. As long as you are only watching unlicensed content, you aren’t breaking any laws.

However, if you are engaging with a P2P stream that includes unlicensed content, you can get in legal trouble. That’s because you are not just watching in this case — you are also a broadcaster and uploading unauthorized content. If you are caught torrenting illegal content in the US, you can get in trouble with the law. You risk big fines or having your Internet connection terminated.

Also, if you operate a site that broadcasts unlicensed content, you are definitely breaking the law. If you’re caught, you might face huge fines and even jail time. There are many examples in the news of P2P site operators being raided and arrested in the US. P2P site owners who live outside the US have also been targeted.

Is Streaming Movies Illegal in the Rest of the World?

We can’t provide a clear answer because each country has different laws. Using legit streaming sites is legal in most parts of the world, but it might be illegal in some restrictive countries. The same goes for streams that include unlicensed content as well.

The best advice we can give you is to check your country’s local laws and copyright regulations. See what they say about using streaming sites and watching unauthorized streams. 

Is Watching Streaming Videos Illegal?

This depends on your country’s local laws and copyright regulations. In most countries, it’s perfectly legal to use a legitimate streaming platform like Netflix. However, some restrictive countries might block those platforms and make it illegal to use them. The same also goes for unlicensed streams. Some countries don’t criminalize watching an illegal stream, only hosting or promoting it. On the other hand, in other countries, you might get in trouble with the law by getting huge fines for watching an unauthorized stream.

Can You Get Caught for Illegal Streaming?

Yes, you can get caught for illegal streaming. It’s not law enforcement, but the holder of the copyright for the content who comes after you — mostly if you engage in P2P streaming. Instead of criminal penalties, you may find yourself involved in a civil suit. Often people are fined or their internet connection is terminated if they get caught.

It’s also pretty easy for illegal streaming to be traced. Your ISP keeps a record of everything you do online. Also, copyright holders are monitoring illegal streaming that uses P2P technology. It’s easy to trace the activity back to you and even your specific device. 

How to Protect Yourself Streaming Movies Online

While the best way to enjoy safe streaming is to stick with the legal platforms, if you decide to venture into the unknown, play it safe. You can use a VPN to protect yourself, your identity and privacy no matter where you are online. Even if you follow all the rules, you have the right to keep your information to yourself.

When you use a VPN, all of your internet traffic is routed through an encrypted tunnel to your provider’s server. The site you visit can’t see your real IP address, and your ISP can’t track your online activity. It hides you from copyright holders so they can not trace it back to you.

Be sure to choose streaming VPNs that can protect you.

Here is what to look for when choosing a VPN to keep you safe online:

  1. Privacy – Take a look at the VPN’s privacy policy. The most important thing to look for is a “no-logs” policy. If your VPN doesn’t keep a record of your activity, there is no way that information can fall into the wrong hands.
  2. Connection Speed –  – All streamers use a VPN that provides fast load times and no buffering. You don’t want a VPN that will drastically slow down your internet connection. Look for a platform that offers high-speed connections for HD streaming.
  3. Large Server Network – The more servers your VPN offers, the better your chances of always having a fast, stable internet connection.
  4. Multiple Platforms – If you want to use your VPN for streaming, make sure it works on all your streaming devices. Some even allow you to install the VPN right on your router, protecting every device on your network.
  5. Streaming Specific Servers – If you are interested in bypassing some providers’ geographic restrictions on specific content, a VPN can help. You might want to look for one with particular servers set up to avoid any VPN blocks streaming providers may have in place.

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