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Streaming 2019 – What is illegal? What is legal?

Streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon and Sky offer a wide range of movies, popular TV series and exclusive content, but they cost money. Some people are happy when they find their entertainment free of charge on the Internet. But is that legal and what can happen? GIGA explains what you can legally stream and where you are in danger.

In addition to the fee-based providers, there are quite a few sources on the Internet where you can download or stream films. As a rule, they are free of charge and often even much more up-to-date than Netflix and Co. Sometimes you will find films that are just being shown in cinemas. Of course you wonder if streaming such movies is illegal – and what can happen to you. The easiest way to bypass geoblocking is using vpn or smartdns, visit for more information.

It doesn’t matter how professional they are and how they give themselves up: Websites like, or are no longer in a grey zone. At the latest after a judgement of the European Court of Justice in 2017, the downloading or streaming of films becomes dangerous. Until then, some of the defendants had been talking about the fact that there was no permanent storage because the films were only stored for a short time in the browser cache. Within the framework of the German Copyright Act, this was usually tolerated in court only just as much.

That is now over. Now the responsibility lies with the user. In any case, he must check for himself whether the offer is an “obviously illegal template”. If the film is streamed anyway, warnings are threatened.

Here, however, the danger is not quite as one hundred percent as it is with P2P networks. The criminal prosecution authorities must obtain access logs to prove that you are a perpetrator. However, the illegal websites often deliberately do not record the accesses. If you’re lucky, the police can’t see what you’ve streamed. If you are reasonable, don’t get involved with such offers!

Programs like BitTorrent allow you to find just about anything you want in a global network of subscribers. This includes countless films and music pieces.

There are no fees and the providers of these files are private people. There are several hooks that you have to consider:

  • Of course, it’s illegal for you to download films – whether current or oldies – from the Internet. There are no discussions. Such works are copyrighted and the right of distribution and sublicensing is exclusively with the copyright holder.
  • If you use peer-to-peer software, the data you download will be made available to others at the same time. This means that at this moment you are becoming a provider of illegal movie downloads! And the lawyers of the film companies are rubbing their hands and preparing advertisements.
  • You are not anonymous in this network. It’s enough for a film company employee to log in and log your IP address to get your address.

Avoid geoblocking and stream movies from abroad

Foreign providers usually use so-called geoblocking to keep you away. This means a national ban to ensure that only viewers from the permitted area are allowed to watch the films.

Many people wonder what this is all about. Why does an English provider lock out German viewers? The reason is licensing regulations. When a provider licenses films, he always does so for restricted access areas. This makes the licence cheaper for him because the rights holder can sub-licence the film again in the neighbouring country. At the same time, however, the streaming service is obligatory. Technically, they have to take all precautions to ensure that only their legal customers can access the films – and that’s where they resort to geoblocking.

Technically you have to imagine it this way:

  • Each visitor is compared with a list of all existing IP address ranges of the valid country.
  • If his IP is not in the list, his access will be blocked.

This geoblocking can be bypassed. For example, you can install a VPN and then select an IP range from the selected country. For the streaming provider, your access will then come from England or the USA, for example, while in reality the data is only redirected to you via a local server.

You’re not directly liable to prosecution! It is the case that the provider of the filmer must take all feasible measures to prevent access from abroad. He cannot take any legal action against you. However, he has the right – and actually the duty – to bar you. That’s why many foreign onlookers quickly find that their access no longer works.

How do you watch movies & series?

Thanks to streaming services, today you no longer have to rely on the linear TV program and the constant repetition of series by TV stations. The long train journey can be shortened by watching a movie on your smartphone. And with ever more affordable prices and better lamp life, more and more people can now make their dream of a home theater come true with a beamer. We therefore ask the GIGA community: How do you watch films and series?

Published in News