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Stream for free, legally!

Streaming is actually a lot more common than you might think. There are many video and audio streaming websites that are perfectly legal. Some notable examples include Youtube, Vimeo, Spotify, Netflix, Twitch, and many more. Those examples may seem obvious but the methods they use to stream are extremely similar to those that are used in services such as 1channel, Popcornflix, Projectfreetv, and obviously many others. So what makes one legal and the other one not? Well funny enough both type of websites are "technically legal" and the entire situation sits in a grey area. There are some websites that are flat out illegal but those don't last long. Before you dive into the answer you first need to know how it works.

Streaming works by saving parts of the video using a "cache" which allows the video to play continuously. A good analogy for this is how Youtube buffers its videos. You can see which part of the video is loaded and which part isn't. The filled in area has been put into the cache while the dark area is the rest of the video. As you play the stream, it continues to load the remainder of the video despite you watching what is already in your cache. Your cache gets recycled as you go so only parts of the video are saved at a given time. 

The way this works is very important as you are never actually downloading the entire video at a given time. This way you are only viewing the content somebody else is hosting! However, when hosting content the provider always need the rights to show it. Otherwise they might get contacted with a DMCA notice (Digital Milennium Copyright Act) or other similar acts if outside of the United States. So when somebody posts illegally pirated content onto Youtube, if it gets past their piracy detection, Youtube will gladly take down any videos that get reported for DMCA violations. These websites that host copyrighted videos and tv shows work the same way. They have users upload their videos and they will respond to any copyright violations respectfully. The problem is there is usually so much content that the website is "unaware of"  and that makes it very difficult to take everything down. You would have to file an individual request for every video violating the copyright. However, even after they are taken down, there are new uploads that come right back up. These hosting websites, unlike youtube, do not allow you to directly search for these kinds of content. Otherwise they would get slapped with a lawsuit for copyright infringement and get taken down. Instead other websites like 1channel and Popcornflix "point" to these website links where these videos can be found. That way the "pointing service" doesn't host illegally held content and the "hosting service" is unaware of those streams being copyrighted.

This all comes together into a gimmicky way for providing these free services. The reason it is legal (or at least very safe) for the end user is because they never actually end up downloading anything. In most cases it is completely legal to stream content since you cannot be held liable for the copyrighted material. However some streams (especially when very small) get loaded entirely into your devices despite being "temporary." Because of this it there is a grey area on the legality of streaming, but you shouldn't worry anyway.Things only really become dangerous when you start downloading these hosted videos or torrenting them. It is really hard to track you if you are streaming content but it becomes a lot easier as soon as you start downloading. Downloading content can be risky based on how the websites servers keeps their logs, so with a court order, they may be forced to give away that IP addresses that downloaded content. However it is even riskier to torrent if you do not know what you are doing. After you have downloaded a torrent you automatically start seeding it. What that means is you act as a provider for the piece of content that you just downloaded. Your device acts a server and you host to anybody else who wishes to download the file. Since your device acts a server it becomes very easy for copyright holders to obtain your IP address and figure out who you are. We discourage this kind of use as it could lead you to a lot of trouble with the law.

In summary you shouldn't feel scared to stream. Streaming is perfectly legal around the globe and only some sources may be a bit sketchy. Even in those situations there hasn't been cases where Copyright Holders have gone after streamers. They are looking for distributors and not the viewers. If you do not want to stream for free you always have alternatives such as Netflix and Huluplus but the current sources such as Projectfreetv and Popcornflix won't cause you any trouble. For more streaming related news and information regarding Android and IPTV set top boxes, make sure to stay tuned with JustAndroidTV.

Sources for you to check:
Canada: http://www.thestar.com/business/2015/01/16/how-canadian-law-views-online-streaming-video-geist.html
Are streaming sites legal? http://www.businessinsider.com/are-streaming-sites-legal-2014-4
How Popcornflix sits with the law: http://www.forbes.com/sites/cit/2015/05/07/inside-the-battle-over-illegal-streaming-sites-how-the-film-industry-fights-back/
Europe: http://bgr.com/2014/06/05/streaming-movies-and-tv-shows-for-free/
United Kingdom: https://torrentfreak.com/anti-piracy-group-admits-streaming-movies-isnt-illegal-130624/

 

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