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    Is Watching Movies Online Illegal?

    Don’t we all the love the excitement of movie theatres? The smell of buttered popcorn, the large screens and the escapism that come with it are all great except for one thing. Movie tickets are hugely prohibitive.

    With the average ticket costing $9, it cost nearly $50 for a family of four to watch one movie. Compare that with sitting at home, all of you staring at your moderately large home TV screen. You don’t have to drive or deal with parking space issues. Simply find a streaming site and that’s it.

    Is it legal to stream films online?


    Streaming Through Licensed Networks

    Both Netflix and Hulu would have been shut down by now if they offered movie streaming services illegally. Amazon Prime Video wouldn’t be a thing and YouTube would have just remained as a channel for music and cat videos. But instead, the licensed TV industry is growing faster than most industries.

    Licensed online TV is a legally operating industry and anyone can join. Netflix has been operating since 1997 and has more than 2000 movies at any given time. Hulu launched in 2008 but had its biggest leap in popularity in 2017 when it incorporated live TV as one of its services.

    If you are thinking about streaming movies for pay, licensed TV networks should be your first choice. Each streaming networks has strengths and weaknesses. Hulu, for instance, is cheap but has fewer movies and is only available in the US. Netflix is more expensive but has more shows, dynamic plans, and exclusive top-thriller movies.

    MSN Watch online can help you find your ideal streaming option easily. With this service, explore your favourite shows and MSN lists three or more streaming networks for you to consider. You can then compare them by pricing, features, and quality before deciding which one to join.


    Regular Streaming Sites

    Most people already know they can watch movies on Netflix. But can you get arrested for streaming films on random websites? There is a little chance of this ever happening and that’s because it’s not your job to know whether the websites are operating legally.

    As a consumer, you are allowed to stream films online. But if the streaming website is operating illegally, it’s the state’s or regulators’ job to deal with such issues. In the past, there have been people who were prosecuted for streaming movies on dubious streaming sites. However, most of the cases ended with no jail time.

    Prosecutions aside, the only thing about streaming you should worry about relates to your security. The Internet is full of scam websites and they hide after the things you love. Adware is mostly spread through movie streaming networks and so is malware.


    Pirating Movies

    Watching movies is mostly legal everywhere. But downloading them—that’s where the law draws the line.  Every movie is protected by copyright laws and its creators can legally sue you for accessing it without their permission.

    90s kids probably remember the FBI warnings bolded in red or green colours that appeared before the start of VHS tapes. While the warnings don’t appear anymore, downloading movies is frowned upon in many states.

    Still, you can download without getting nothing more than a warning from your ISP provider. That’s right. Your Internet Service Provider cares more when you pirate films than Hollywood producers. But other than that, laws about downloading online movies are almost never enforced.

    In Canada, the prize for illegally downloading a movie is around $2-$15. The laws state that you can only be charged the amount it costs to purchase that movie. As such, almost no one is ever pursued pirating movies.

    In the US, it depends on how you download films. YouTube, iTunes and many more sites offer legal ways to download films. You also can’t get arrested if you have an original DVD at home. And even if you don’t, no one will follow up.


    Charging Friends to Stream on your Accounts

    Streaming, whether alone or with a group of friends, counts as a legal activity. But if you regularly stream and download movies for others, this could be interpreted as a problematic issue. If you also get paid for helping others stream films, you could be prosecuted for it.

    It gets worse if you stream movies in public areas with the aim of profiting from it. You can be sued by the streaming networks or film producers for profiting from the work. While pirating movies for profit can land you in jail, streaming with friends is safe.

    Keep in mind that although torrent sites are legal, downloading copyrighted films on torrent sites is illegal. You can always hide your IP address with a VPN but when torrenting movies, you are usually breaking intellectual rights rules.


    Where to Best Stream Movies

    There are two types of streaming channels: free and paid and paid. Free movie streaming websites rely on advertising to make profits. Paid network rely on your money. While it sounds fun to catch up with your favourite shows without paying, you get the best experience on paid platforms.

    It costs you as little as $5 to watch an unlimited amount of movies online. And not just any movies, current hits in HD quality. Most free streaming sites show old movies, often in bad quality formats. Netflix will show you exclusive films before you can find them anywhere else.

    Of course, you are not limited to Netflix, Hulu, and a few other networks. There are more than 20 sites that showcase HD quality films. Most of them are cheaper than the popular network. They don’t always have the big libraries Netflix and Prime Video has, but you still get better experiences from them compared to free sites.


    To Conclude

    If you love movies and going to the theatres every weekend is untenable, consider watching them online. It’s perfectly legal to stream films on licensed networks. For non-licensed sites, you can still stream and not face any legal threats as long as you don’t make any downloads.

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