Can I Watch Movies Online for Free or is it Illegal?

- by Sarah Connelly

The advice from legal experts is that any service offering free streaming, or downloading, or to watch movies online for free, is probably illegal. Although streaming movies via the internet doesn’t directly break any laws in the UK, it does go against international copyright laws.

Still, it should be noted that no one has ever been prosecuted in the UK for watching free movies online. Read on to find out what you can do to safely to watch movies online for free legally in the UK.

Can I Watch Movies Online for Free or is it illegal - Cashfloat

Watching for free online from questionable sources can be dangerous and expose you to cyber-risk. Legal streaming services such as Youtube, Microsoft and satellite/cable operators now offer more modestly priced streaming of movies and, as a result, it makes sense to stop and think before exposing yourself to illegal sites. You don’t need to go to the underworld of illegal websites to watch movies online for free!

In this article, we will look at:
  • Can you get fined for streaming movies online?
  • How to watch movies online for free
  • Dangers when you watch movies online for free
  • Precautions if Using Illegal Movie Streaming Sites
  • 3 ways to watch free movies online safely
  • Cheap (non-free) ways to watch movies online
  • How to stay safe while watching movies online

Can someone fine you for streaming movies?

Nobody has ever been prosecuted for downloading movies illegally in the UK – yet. This is probably because the illegal streaming and downloading by end-users is simply too widespread for film copyright owners and organisations representing them to track. Nevertheless, theoretically, you can be prosecuted for streaming movies illegally or if you watch movies online for free, illegally.

The UK Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) represents the interests of copyright owners, along with cinema owners and legal streaming services such as Spotify. In recent years, they have focussed on trying to shut down streaming and illegal download websites, which will have a larger impact than going after individuals. Where possible, they have prosecuted illegal operators and distributors. They have not done this so much to recover lost revenue, but as a deterrent to others considering or operating illegal websites or streaming services where people can watch movies online for free illegally.

The UK's creative industry employs 1.5 million people, account for £36 billion in revenues but lost £500 million a  year due to copyright theft!
The UK's creative industry employs 1.5 million people, account for £36 billion in revenues but lost £500 million a  year due to copyright theft!

FACT also told the Telegraph:

“The jobs, livelihoods and skills of the many individuals employed are threatened. People must understand that if they do not pay to watch the films, TV and sport content they love, then they won’t be there to watch in the future.”

The focus of the UK authorities on the illegal distribution via streaming or download services has resulted in some successful prosecutions. In 2012, a man operating an illegal site called was found guilty on two counts of conspiracy to defraud. He was sentenced to four years’ in prison with an order to repay more than £71,000 to copyright owners or face a further 21 months in jail.

How to Watch Movies Online for Free

You may have heard of free movie sites like or that offer all the newest movies for free in HD. Sounds enticing, right? Wrong. These websites are illegal (which is why they will also keep changing as authorities work to remove them), and although you are unlikely to be prosecuted or fined, you may be exposing yourself to online risks.

Precautions When Using Illegal Movie Streaming Sites

If you’re not going to listen to us, and anyways decide to use websites like these, we strongly recommend you follow the following steps:

  1. Install an Adblocker, like this Adblocker for Chrome. After all, these websites stay alive by selling ad placements. And the only companies buying ads on illegal sites are indecent ones …that are probably also illegal.
  2. Always have up-to-date antivirus software installed on your computer or even your mobile device (yes, mobiles can be hacked as well!)
  3. NEVER download anything from any free movie streaming websites! If it prompts you to download a Flash plugin, for example, you should download it directly from Adobe’s website.

Believe it or not, getting hacked can lead anywhere from your computer completely crashing forever to identity theft – both very expensive turnouts. Better be safe than sorry! You don’t want to be needing to dip into your savings or borrowing a pay day loan from Cashfloat to replace your computer just because you weren’t cautious.

Watch Movies Online Safely for Free - Cashfloat

3 ways to watch free movies online safely

If you still want to watch movies online for free, we recommend you do so in one of the following SAFE ways:

  1. BBC iPlayer –To watch BBC iPlayer, all you need to do is register on their site, and Voila! As long as you’re covered by a TV license, it is a legal and safe way to watch online. We know, the movies they have are not that good, but you might as well start somewhere! Also, stay tuned around Christmas time – they always bring on new (and better) movies.

  2. Youtube or Dailymotion – We should start by mentioning that full movies uploaded onto these sites may also be illegal, BUT, watching a full movie on Youtube is a LOT safer than watching on a dodgy pop-up site. You might be used to thinking Youtube is just for clips, but you’d be surprised how many movies are available there for free! Just search ‘full movie’ in the Youtube search bar and take your pick.

The best cheap ways to watch movies online:

If you want to stay away from illegal activity run by people with questionable morals and support all the hard work movie makers put into creating entertainment for you, the best possible way to watch movies relaxingly online is to… pay for it. Here are a few ways we at Cashfloat found for you to safely and legally watch online (not for free).

  1. Netflix!! Even though Netflix costs, it is relatively cheap (£5.99 a month) considering you can watch unlimited. And their cancel anytime policy means that you can literally cancel and not get charged if, for example, you know you won’t be watching for a while. Although the newest movies are not normally available, Netflix has really upped their game recently and have started releasing their very own exclusive quality content! And if you’re into watching series, Netflix has a huge variety (especially for older series that are perfect for binge-watching).

  2. Starting from £2.49, you can rent movies on the Microsoft or Google stores. I mean, who watches any movie more than once anyway?! And if you really like the movie, there’s an option to buy it instead of rent it, but of course, for a higher price. Always download the SD version and not the HD to save money, unless you’re viewing on a really huge screen.

  3. You can use a search engine like which helps you locate good places to watch any movie (even newer ones) legally. Again, make sure to click the RENT option, and not the BUY option, so you pay £2.49 instead of £9.99.
One study of the most frequently used illegal film and TV sites in the UK found that 90% contained malware and other unwanted programs designed to defraud users!
One study of the most frequently used illegal film and TV sites in the UK found that 90% contained malware and other unwanted programs designed to defraud users!

Staying safe online while watching movies

Cyber crime is nothing new. If for instance, you were to receive an email or see an advert about low interest loans from a new lender you’d never heard about, you wouldn’t immediately give them all of your details. For example, Cashfloat is a secure lender; we are fully authorised by the FCA, our website is secure (you can tell by the little padlock in the URL bar), and we make all our loan terms and conditions clear before you apply for a low interest short term loan. Just as a sensible user would make sure to check all of these features, so too you should check any website before entering your sensitive details.

Summary: Keeing Safe and Legal

How can I watch free movies online safely?

To watch free movies online safely, you can use:

• Youtube – There are many free full-length movies available on Youtube. Just search ‘full movie’ and take your pick!

• Dailymotion – Same as Youtube, you can find many great full-length movies on DailyMotion, sometimes broken into parts. Dailymotion is also known for having a great pick of series to choose from.

• BBC iPlayer – If you have a TV license, you can access free movies on BBC iPlayer. Although there are not many good movies all-year-round, stay tuned Christmas time, when the BBC uploads a more significant range of better videos for free.
Please note that watching free movies on Youtube and Dailymotion is considered illegal. However, you are unlikely to get prosecuted for using them, and they are entirely safe as long as you don’t follow any links.

Is there a legal way to watch free movies online?

The most legitimate way to watch movies online is to pay for them. After all, a lot of money and effort was spent to create the film for you. The least you could do is pay a small amount of money to watch it. The cheapest ways we found to watch movies online were:

• Netflix – Starting from £5.99 a month. Netflix has a vast selection of movies and TV series for you to choose from. You won’t get the newest Hollywood blockbusters, but Netflix has started releasing their own original films, starring Hollywood actors and actresses.

• Prime Video – Starting from £7.99 a month. Prime video comes as part of the Amazon Prime package and offers a massive range of movies, although most of them are older. If you’re already paying for Amazon Prime, consider this a free add-on!

• Microsoft/Apple Store – On every Windows PC, you can access the Microsoft store to rent movies from as little as £2.49 (choose SD option, not HD) per film. If you have an Apple device, you can rent moves on iTunes from as low as £2.99 per movie. Convenient, easy to access and 100% safe.

Piracy. It’s a Crime.

We know that services like Netflix are not free, and we try to help our readers to save money, but we cannot recommend any of the popular free movie streaming sites as they are illegal. Feel free to check out the other free options we explored in this article.

Know someone who would benefit from knowing all this useful information? Share this with them! Who knows? You might even save them some money!

If you are looking for where to find cheap cinema tickets during the holidays, click here to read about it. To learn how to watch TV series free online, click here.

Have you found yourself in a financial emergency? Don’t worry! We can help. Cashfloat can offer you best payday loans at an affordable rate. We have flexible repayment options that allow you to pay whenever you have the money, thereby saving on the total interest. Apply here!

About The Author
Sarah Connelly
Sarah is an enthusiastic writer, blogger and an eager agent of change. After completing her degree in Computer Science in one of London’s esteemed universities, Sarah’s early career in programming left her creatively frustrated. Looked for a way to combine her creative and analytical side, Sarah’s search led her to Digital Marketing and now she writes content and code for Cashfloat. Sarah enjoys spreading awareness about common financial issues and the importance of money management. With her STEM background, Sarah believes strongly in ethical business management and consumer protection. in her free time, Sarah enjoys reading, watching movies and eating out. After all, #YOLO!
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