In a new Survey poll focused solely on streaming, 20% of people admitted to streaming unlicensed content, over 25% didn’t stream unlicensed content because they didn’t know how and 35% said they thought it was illegal.

So is streaming movies illegal or not?

James Gibson, director of the Intellectual Property Institute at the University of Richmond law school stated that streaming online content breaks the law when the user is “pseudo-streaming” or downloads part of a file or copyrighted material. Or when the user streams content as a “public performance” showing it to a substantial number of people also constitutes a copyright violation.”

Mr Gibson also stated:

While accessing unlicensed streamed content is completely legal, uploading or posting unlicensed streamed content is not, even if it’s free. Gibson stated that is the most basic part of copyright protection, when someone uploads a video online, they are literally making an illegal copy.

Streaming media device manufacturers avoid legal trouble by not hosting any content:

These tech appliances act as a search tool that locates links to streamed content made available from second or third party servers. Proving legal accountability in this cases requires the “inducement rule,” a test created in a 2005 Supreme Court ruling which states that a company or website can only be held accountable for distributing unlicensed content if it clearly encourages users to break the law and willfully infringe on a copyright by uploading or downloading copyrighted content, the act of streaming content does not apply in this case.

The website Napster ended up in legal trouble because they were instructing users to copy their songs and upload them for other users to disseminate. Napster was in fact instructing people to break the law. Now Listening to uploaded music is NOT illegal but downloading and copying it is. Also music sharing has NOT stopped and has only increased as a result of the precedent setting case exposing this trend to the public.

A prime example of this would be to compare media streaming devices to car manufacturers.

Take General Motors for instance, while GM can make a car you can use to get work that same vehicle can be used as a getaway car in a bank robbery. That doesn’t put GM on the hook just because it provides a product or technology that can be used illegally, the same goes for streaming media devices.

In conclusion, watching a streaming movie is no more illegal than watching a bank robbery because your not committing any crime

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