Watching TV shows and films online can be convenient and cheap; however, when it comes to copyright infringement, you could also be walking a legal tightrope. Here is a guide on where you can watch TV and movies online without falling foul of the law.
There are many sites that allow you to stream or download your favourite programmes for a minimal or no charge, so if you want to watch movies and TV online, you have plenty of options.
However, most of these sites could be infringing intellectual property laws that protect the media industry from people that are distributing their work without permission.
Stream a film from a source that is illegal, and you could get a warning letter from your service provider and even experience your internet speed being clipped or blocked altogether if you are considered to be a frequent offender.
However, there are several sites that do offer TV shows and movies for free without breaking the law. Found below are some of the places where you can legally watch TV shows and films online.
Is watching free TV or movies online legal?
Films are only protected by copyright for a definite period, depending on where and when it was formerly published and the country in which you reside.
- Under UK copyright law, a film is protected for 70 years from the death of the last to survive out of the screenwriter, the original musical composer, and the director.
- Once this period expires, the film is then considered as being in the ‘public domain', and it can be freely distributed.
- As a result, many of the films that can be streamed legally online for free tend to be ‘classic movies' that are not any more protected by copyright laws.
If a TV show or film is still protected by copyright, then the website must seek permission to distribute it.
Where can I stream video online?
There are a lot of websites that offer TV shows and movies, but you cannot always ensure that what you are watching is legal.
The Industry Trust is an industry body created to protect the media industry from copyright infringement.
If you are having a hard time in looking for the TV programme or movie that you wish to watch online, then you can directly search for it with the use of a content search engine just like FindAnyFilm.com, which enumerated the cheapest places to watch TV shows and films legally online.
This implies that you can quickly discover if there is a free stream that is available or if you will have to pay in order to watch your film online.
Other sites to try
- The British Film Institute suggests contemporary and classic global cinema and documentaries, including free films.
- Jaman offers a mixture of pay-for and free movies to download or stream, including a broad choice of Bollywood movies and independent film.
- Viewster offers an extensive range of free films and series from around the world.
TV on demand
One of the easiest and best means to watch films and TV online for free is to make use of the on-demand services run by the major UK TV channels.
Each permits you to stream copyright-protected content for free without breaking any laws.
However, the main catch with the TV on demand services is that shows and movies are only available for a limited time following their original broadcast.
BBC iPlayer, the most well-known catch-up TV service, was introduced in December 2007 and allows users to catch up on various films and TV shows that previously broadcast on any of the Freeview BBC channels.
It also has a series catch-up feature which indicates that you can watch all the earlier episodes of various TV shows online for free. BBC iPlayer is financed through the TV licence. However, you do not have to hold a licence to use it.
ITV Player, 4OD & Demand Five
The major difference between the BBC iPlayer and the other TV on demand services is that they are partly funded by advertisements which are embedded in the programs just like the TV channels themselves.
Pay for sites
If you cannot look for the TV show or film that you wish to watch or would like to choose from a broader list, then you may need to pay to watch it online.
Most pay to view sites also offer welcome credits or free trials, so you may be able to make use of the free subscription and then cancel before being required to pay a subscription fee.
The Content Map includes various links to many of the most popular legitimate pay to view sites online.
Amazon Instant Video
The Instant Video service of Amazon allows you to pay to buy or rent more than 50,000 films and TV shows online.
Alternatively, a membership in Amazon Prime includes more than 15,000 movies and TV episodes as part of the annual subscription.
Netflix also offers a broad range of television programmes and films that are available to stream if you pay a monthly subscription.
NOW TV offers thousands of TV shows and movies that you can stream on your TV, laptop, phone, console, or tablet. You can pay for a monthly subscription fee to watch movies, entertainment, or sports.