Why I Don’t Use “Free” Illegal TV Streaming Services

Do you use Popcorn Time or other streaming service that allows you to get newly-released movies or TV shows for free? If you’re using a streaming service on your computer, Kodi-based set-top box, tablet, or other Internet-connected device that seems too good to be true, it’s probably illegal.

I just read that a major studio is about to sue Popcorn Time and force them to disclose the IP addresses of everyone who uses their service. They could then sue folks who use the service. I thought, maybe this is a good time to write about my thoughts on illegal streaming services.

I don’t use illegal services and I advise my readers not to as well. I don’t want to get sued, I don’t want you to get sued, and I like to sleep at night knowing I’m doing the right thing. Starting with this, I’ll run down some reasons why you shouldn’t use illegal streaming services.

1. You Could Get Sued

You might think that it’s not worth anyone’s time to sue a consumer who occasionally watches a movie for free instead of paying $5 or $10. Well, that may be true, but it’s also true that the studios are losing millions of dollars on illegal viewing and just might want to make an example of some people, no matter how small the infraction. I don’t want to be one of those unlucky people.

This article says that settlement amounts of those who cooperated were below the statutory minimum of $750, but can exceed $1000 due to legal fees. It goes on to say:

” Traditionally, settlement offers in these type of cases have been around $3,000 per infringed work, although we have seen agreements detailing settlements of up to $14,000″

Here’s another article about downloaders being sued.

While it’s unlikely you will be used, do you really want to take that chance? Is it really worth saving $5 or $6 to rent it?

2. You’re Not Only a User, but Also a Supplier

If you are using a BitTorrent-based service like Popcorn Time, you’re not only downloading movies, but you’re part of a network of computers that is uploading content to other users. That’s what the BitTorrent concept is all about – streaming content from all users of the network.

This means a couple of things. First, your bandwidth is being used for OTHER people to watch illegal movies. If you have bandwidth limits from your Internet Service Provider, watch out.

Second, it makes you an even bigger target for legal action by the studios, because as much as they hate people who download illegal movies, they hate people who supply those movies to other people even more. And if you are using a BitTorrent service like Popcorn Time, guess what, you’re a supplier!

Check out this excerpt from an article about Popcorn Time:

“The problem is that sharing copyrighted content is illegal. While all users may not be aware, a stipulation on Popcorn Time’s FAQ does indicate that a customer is in fact uploading a movie at the same time they are watching it. Hollywood executives, copyright enforcers, and law enforcement officials have spent well over a decade in pursuit of violators, and uploading content is widely considered to be one of the riskiest online behaviors a person can engage in.

3. You Could Get a Virus

Many of these sites are riddled with viruses and other malware. If you’re using a PC to watch the illegal content, your computer could be vulnerable.

I recently checked out a site called “Project Free TV”.  Sure enough, I got a fake popup saying my computer was infected and urging me to click a link.  I closed the browser immediately.

4. You Could Compromise Your Privacy

Do you think the providers of these free, illegal services are concerned about your privacy? As I mentioned before, your IP address is being exposed, opening you up to future litigation if the service is subpoena’d. I don’t want to think about what they do with your personal information if you actually sign into one of these sites.

5. You’re Stealing

Finally, no matter how you try to justify it, you’re stealing if you use these services. You can say it’s only a tiny amount, and the studios make huge profits and try to screw over consumers, but that doesn’t really matter. It’s still stealing. Another way to look at it is that the cost of this theft is passed on to honest paying customers, so it’s not just “stealing from a large corporation”, but from everyone else who rents or buys content, or who watches it in a theater.

What to Do Instead

For these reasons, I only endorse legal sources of free and cheap TV and movies on DisableMyCable.com. So, feel free to use any of the services that I mention on my site without fear!

I personally pay very little for TV and movies, because I use an antenna to get FREE HD-quality broadcast TV, and I watch a lot of YouTube, which has some really great content. I have Amazon Prime and occasionally will pay to rent a movie. And let’s not forget about the fun of watching a movie in the theater once in a while.

So, I’m very satisfied with the content that I can get using an antenna and online, without having to resort to illegal streaming.

What are your thoughts on this? Please comment below! – Brian

  • Don’t say I didn’t warn you:

    Now a major content and anti-piracy group has announced plans to go after the users of illegal add-ons for Kodi in “the very near future.”
    http://cordcuttersnews.com/content-owners-now-plan-go-kodi-users-pirate-content/

  • Lee Crippen

    Like the internet there are over 1000 sites to watch movies but you do not each one is legal and each are not

  • Lee Crippen

    I also heard that dish network is sueing goggle to

  • Lee Crippen

    I got a roku tv set.how do i know what on there channels are legal and what is not

    • Hi Lee,

      All Roku channels from the channel store are legal. You have to go through special steps to install illegal Roku channels.

      Best,
      Brian

  • BRIAN

    bottom line worry about yourself everyone whose an adult knows whats up you worry about you

  • BRIAN

    I can’t stand people like you …do something with your life other than being a internet jimmy olson’

    reporter and mind your own business

  • penwright1029

    So. Is it illegal to watch paid Amazon Prime on my TV? I pay a monthly subscription. I want to use an HDMI cable with an adapter to my modem to watch TV from my computer. But I don’t know which adapter to buy.

    • Hi penwright,

      It is not illegal to watch Amazon Prime on your TV!

      You could attach an HDMI cable from your computer to your TV, but I would recommend just getting a Roku and attaching that to your TV so your computer is not involved. Up to you though. That would require Wi-Fi unless you get a Roku Premiere or Ultra, which has Ethernet connector.

      Best,
      Brian

  • MadamTechy.IT

    Bottom line .. you steal .. you will get caught ..

    It’s NEVER a good day ..

    to go to jail .. js

  • DatsPB

    My friend asked me why I wasn’t using a “jailbroken” Firestick a couple days ago. I don’t think I ever answered him. But for me, I rather just pay for the service. Too many “this could happen” bullet points to deal with for something I could certainly live without.

    • Hi DatsPB,

      Totally agree! Thanks for sharing.

      Best,
      Brian

  • Vet

    Brian, thanks for the info and your integrity.

  • ÇrApple i-Plode 7hiS Kablooey

    @brianshim:disqus, what about those using a VPN?

    • Hi,

      Using a VPN will surely make it more difficult for anyone to track you. There is still the moral issue of viewing content illegally though.

      Thanks,
      Brian

  • ÇrApple i-Plode 7hiS Kablooey

    Brian, what about those using a VPN?

  • Gina Hall

    I like this article. I knew there had to be a downside.

    • Thank you for commenting Gina!

      Brian

  • Isaac

    Oh the wee people are scoring one against multi billion dollar networks who feed us mostly mind pollution and and political propanganda. Fuck yeah we the tax paying life blood of this country are stealing. Meanwhile the FBI is selling guns to Cartels, the CIA sells drugs and uses the profits to fund coups, the IRS bleeds us dry but sucks off the credited investor club, our politians plays us for the fools we are, cable companies spend billions is lobbyists to keep us dependant on them when. When did Americans become so complacent and naïve. YOU ARE EITHER GETTING SCREWED OR DOING THE SCREWING. AND TRUST ME THEY DONT CARE ABOUT YOU THEY ARE ONLY FOR THEMSELVES AND THEIR FAMILY…SAID ONE OF THE ROTHSCHILD’S HEIRS.

  • bigfooterssteve

    Conflating 3 different things. Article warns about streaming, then provides examples of people getting in trouble for sharing and downloading content. How many people have ever been sued for watching….aka streaming….illegal content on youtube? That’s not to say it couldn’t ever happen, just pointing out the difference.

    • HI bigfootersteve,

      I doubt anyone will ever get in trouble for viewing illegal content on YouTube. But that’s because YouTube as a company tries not to have illegal content and will eventually get rid of it. That’s not what the studios are worried about.

      I think the studios are more worried about people watching videos (streaming or otherwise) from services that have no qualms about distributing large amounts of illegal video, and could go after those services and perhaps users.

      Brian

  • Slade

    Streaming is not illegal in Canada.

  • Pamela Gray

    Okay folks!! James and I have always either had DISH or DIRECTV….My last bill after adding movies and whatnot was approximately $120, so I called them and asked them why it was so much…They didn’t give me a satisfactory answer, so today we purchased ROKU. It is a stick that costs about $50, and we are finding anywhere between 1,000 and 3,500 channels BY ADDING http://machtvamerica.com/ !! ….what a savings!!. WE HAVE HBO, CINAMAX, BRAVO, SHOWTIME, CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, NLF, MBA ARE A FEW…..AND IT GIVES YOU A PANEL JUST LIKE DISH OR DIRECTV TO CHOOSE FROM….. WE CAN WATCH MOVIES, TOO FOR ONLY $21 PER MONTH. AND BRIAN, ROKU IS JUST THE SAME THING AS AMAZON FIRE STICK….AND I HAVE NOT LOST A MINUTES SLEEP!!

  • jason larose

    But amazo firestick wirh kodi is not file-sharing so its not illegal

    • Agreed.

      • Pais Croiseur

        You should never steal stuff, but fucking Netflix out of a subscription that’s just honest fun, after all it’s not file sharing lmao

      • Pais Croiseur

        Firestick with Kodi is still stealing. If you dont care, I dont blame you. Everyone downloads music or uses their friends HBOGo password, its no big deal. But why lie to yourself? Netflix, Hulu, Sunday Ticket, PPV are all for sale, you are getting all of this for free with firestick and the appropriate response is “Dude this thing is awesome, you can steal all kinds of stuff with it!” not “Well technically if you look at charter 3.1 in the …” lmao

        • Hi Pais,

          Firestick with Kodi is not illegal in itself. Kodi can be used to access illegal services, though, which is probably what you are referring to. And I don’t condone those either.

          Best,
          Brian

          • Christopher Miller

            Kodi is useful to sidelong apps that just haven’t been ported yet for services paid for that you would normally be able to get through a regular apk package anyways….like for example viv service which is a paid service like crunchyroll that you still have to pay for as well…so everything is more like a hammer is not inherently bad but I think most would agree it’s bad to hit someone over the head with one. It’s a tool just like everything else.

    • Pamela Gray

      GOOD GRIEF!!

  • Valiant

    Also for those who use Popcorn Time, it might be good to keep in mind that ignorance is not a defense in the eyes of the law so while they could claim they didn’t know they were “sharing” (uploading) content with others when using Popcorn’s site it won’t hold weight.

    When “hanging around the water cooler” I am sometimes bothered because it seems like I’m the only person who hasn’t torrented the latest TV show that’s already aired in another country (before the USA). I suppose that’s a moot point now that I’ve cut the cord (2 weeks as of yesterday with no pre-planning or set-up of an alternate system !).

    I’m not a stickler for obeying every single stupid, petty, silly, little law and torrenting might be one of them…I just don’t know. If I knew enough to make an informed decision…but I don’t. :-/ Torrenting is legal for personal use in some other countries….

    • Hi Valiant,

      Great points! Thanks for sharing! And, congrats on cutting the cord!

      Brian

      • Valiant

        Thank *you*, Brian! My cord cutting wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t read your site first!
        I can’t help but wonder. Is anyone else scrambling to figure out the best way to watch Game of Thrones now that they’ve cut the cord??? I’m still learning. I did buy Chromecast but it hasn’t arrived yet and I’m not convinced it will work to stream GOT from my laptop to my non-smart with HDMI TV using HBO NOW. Plus I don’t have any other devices to use with Chromecast which seems to be the suggested way of use. Nail biting has commenced!

    • Matthew Gordon

      Unless your name is Hillary, then you can pretend to not know the law and get away with it.

  • Linda K.

    I watch CNN, Fox, and MSNBC at a link called Hulkusc. Here’s the one for msnbc:
    http://www.hulkusc.com/watch-msnbc-live-streaming/
    Do you know anything about this site? How are they able to do this? And how can it be illegal if they’ve been offering this for about four years that I know of. Also, this site…
    more free cable news. Why won’t it let me paste the url? It’s LiveNewsCloudStream or livenewschat.eu
    What can you tell me about these sites and why can’t you let consumers know about them?
    Thank you for any answer you might have!

    • Hi Linda,

      It’s hard to find any information on these sites, which is a red flag right there. Are they illegal? I don’t know. You’re free to watch them and the probability of anything bad happening is probably pretty low, but I can’t endorse them without knowing they are 100% legal.

      Thanks,
      Brian