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.
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.
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 Surfthechannel.com 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 Lookmovie.ag or movieninja.io 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.
While some sites, for a period, may appear to make money through annoying pop-up adverts, their big income is provided by illegal activity. Ultimately, when accessing illegal websites, you are leaving yourself open to being hacked or having malware installed. Because of this, it may not be a good idea to watch movies online for free.
Personal information including log-in details to email and social media sites, personal online banking or credit card information is worth big money. In the underworld of online crime, your information could be on the market!
Do you really want to risk having your personal information sold on to criminals? They may want to rob or defraud you! Do you want your computer to be part of an illegal network of bots aimed at spying on sensitive commercial or government websites? Can you afford to have your PC, tablet or smartphone overrun with viruses or malware? These may corrupt all your files and make your equipment unusable! This may sound far-fetched, but it is the reality of internet crime in the 21st century.
Any connection to criminal activity can put you, and your equipment at risk. In the UK and many EU countries, the major internet service providers (ISPs) have been required by the authorities to sign up to actions to try to identify and prevent illegal activity on the web. Along with security services such as GCHQ, commercial organisations such as ISPs can quickly detect if you are using illegal streaming or download services. Targeted individuals identified using illegal services will initially be contacted by their ISP with a written warning to desist from the illegal behaviour. If they do not comply by desisting the ISP can then withdraw internet services and optionally also report offences to the authorities. Funnily enough, this can be simply from wanting to watch movies online for free!
Even worse than possible sanctions from the courts or ISPs, is the simple danger of connecting to illegal websites in the first instance. It’s rather like dealing with counterfeit suppliers of tobacco, alcohol or perfumes. Do you really know what you are getting from the criminal you are dealing with? If you are “lucky” you may get genuine products which have been “knocked off” or stolen. You could be consuming counterfeit goods which are dangerous or poisonous. A similar situation applies when you deal with internet criminals or fake lenders offering online loans.
As the authorities have cracked down on illegal operations in western democratic states with good rule of law, the pirate download sites and illegal streaming sites have increasingly been forced into jurisdictions where criminal activity is rifer. As with illegal hacking operations, illegal streaming and download sites now often operate out of countries such as Russia or China.
Generally, this is beyond the reach of the UK authorities. Just as when America truly was the “wild-west” and during the years that the Mafia or other criminal organisations corrupted many big cities, the internet is now rife with dangerous criminal gangs. Many believe that many of those operating in illegal internet hosting and websites work closely with criminal gangs. These gangs may deal in drug running or illegal weapon smuggling. These people are not interested in customer service in the traditional sense. Do you really want to deal with such people?
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:
- 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.
- Always have up-to-date antivirus software installed on your computer or even your mobile device (yes, mobiles can be hacked as well!)
- 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.
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:
- 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.
- 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).
- 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).
- 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.
- You can use a search engine like https://www.findanyfilm.com 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.
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.
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!