Online Streaming – Legal or illegal?

online streaming

Online streaming has gained massive popularity recently. Today, you can get the latest episode of your favourite show or movie online. In fact, most people opt to save money by streaming movies and television shows for free in the comfort of their home theaters instead of going to the cinemas. Accordingly, there are numerous platforms available for streaming such shows. While these sites are useful, one aspect riddled by controversy is their legality.

A site cannot be termed illegal merely because it offers free content. If such platforms use legal means to acquire movies and TV shows, they are legitimate. Therefore, copyright infringement is what makes streaming sites illegal. This is where sites stream content for free without permission from owners.

It is important to note that this post does not endorse illegal streaming in any way. With this information in mind, read on to understand the legal aspect of online streaming better.

The Legality of Online Streaming Explained

We need to understand how streaming platforms work and the copyright laws involved to get a better idea of the legal aspect.

Primarily, streaming sites do not own the content on their website. Instead, they act as search engines, requesting files stored on secondary websites that store the content on servers that stream back to the viewer’s computer.

Copyright laws give authors full ownership of their work and the right to copy and distribute their content. It is worth noting that numerous laws protect copyrighted content, such as the Protecting Lawful Streaming Act (PLSA) of 2020. 

Streaming Unlicensed Movies and Shows

Streaming unlicensed content does not technically violate copyright laws. Why? First off, streams are not considered public performances since users watch them from the comfort of their homes. However, secondary websites violate copyright laws since they store unlicensed video content on their servers.

The web is full of websites that violate copyright laws, such as WatchSoMuch. While platforms such as this offer free and unlimited access to movies and TV shows, you should take extra measures to protect yourself. Accordingly, this might be useful in shedding light on the tools you can use to attain a higher level of protection while using WatchSoMuch and similar platforms.

Downloading Copyrighted Content

So, when does streaming become illegal? When you download copyrighted material, you are, in fact, infringing copyright laws. A clear example is pseudo streaming, where you stream a movie as it is being downloaded.

Therefore, it is upon you to perform your due diligence when streaming movies and shows from any website. Remember, no website will tell you that their content is illegal.

Hosting Unauthorized Content

While streaming content is legal, hosting unauthorized content is illegal. This may sound a bit complicated, but there is an easier way of looking at it: The authorities are less likely to be concerned with who is streaming the content. Instead, their attention is likely to be drawn to the hosting party, as this is the individual distributing illegal content.

Hence, you need to check whether the host site is legitimate when streaming movies. There are tons of legitimate streaming sites on the web, such as ITV Hub. While it is not available worldwide, you can use proxies for ITV Hub to access this platform from anywhere.

Peer to Peer Sharing

Peer to peer sharing is one of the most common forms of content distribution on the web today using torrent platforms such as BitTorrent. So, is peer to peer sharing legal or illegal? We need to understand how these websites work for us to answer this question. Accordingly, Peer to peer sharing relies on users to distribute the content. Therefore, if you are a viewer, you are also a broadcaster, which means you are violating copyright laws.


It is no secret that the web is full of websites that allow you to stream movies and TV shows for free. While some of these websites have legitimate ways of acquiring their content, most use illegal shortcuts. Therefore, it is your sole duty as a law-abiding citizen to filter the legal ones from the illegal basket. This post is designed to offer insight into the factors that determine whether a streaming website is legal or illegal. Happy streaming!

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