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Is Watching Online Live Streams Legal? < Back to All

February 26, 2016

Watching online video streams on your DroidBOX® TV box is not illegal. Many media producers provide streaming options such as the BBC’s iPlayer, Amazon’s Instant Video (Prime) and NetFlix. In recent years this area of providing direct over-the-top-content (OTT Content) has grown massively, partly in response to the rise in popularity of the streaming video provider Youtube.

BBC iPlayer

Consumers can now access OTT content through a variety of internet-connected devices such as PC’s, mini PC's, games consoles, boxes powered by Android, smartphones, tablets and smart TV’s. A 2015 survey estimated that 15 million UK residents watch TV streams and 10 million use services such as NetFlix for movies.

The difference between downloading and online streaming media is that when you download, you store the data for future use on a physical device such as a PC’s hard drive. With online streaming, you do download data, but no attempt is made to store it permanently to a device.

On 5 June 2014, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled that streaming illegal content online is legal in Europe. The Boy Genius Report weblog noted that "As long as an Internet user is streaming copyrighted content online ... it’s legal for the user, who isn’t willfully [sic] making a copy of said content. If the user only views it directly through a web browser, streaming it from a website that hosts it, he or she is apparently doing nothing wrong. Source: Wikipedia

In 2013, the streaming service FilmOn were ordered to stop its recording/DVR service because of these reasons. In the same year, FilmOn was cited twice by the FCC in two of its recommendations (NPRM) to Congress and the Senate to approve OTT content or Internet delivery as a legal platform to deliver television, ratifying FilmOn as a MVPD (multichannel video programming distributor).

Streaming TV

Online streams that bypass subscription or geo-blocking fall into a grey area. Morally it could be thought of as ambiguous, but legally it is perfectly fine because consumers are not storing a copy. In a 2015 article, the UK's Intellectual Property Office (IPO) says that British consumers are now switching to viewing legal content rather than pirated material. The survey found that 62% of UK internet users are now using a streaming or download service, with 1 in 5 using with 1 in 5 using services such as IPVanish to watch geo-blocked streams.

At the time of writing, no UK resident has been prosecuted for watching an internet stream. In 2015, the UK government has provided £3.1m to educate residents on how to access content. The IPO also works with the European Commission to find better ways to make content available to purchase and view across borders which may help to reduce ‘pirate’ content and geo-blocking.

To summarise, watching online streams is at the time of writing, legal in the eyes of the law. Providing you do not store any media on your PC for example, it is OK to watch online streams. DroidBOX® TV Boxes are merely instruments that could be used to do right or wrong. We at DroidBOX® are trying to ease the life of those who would like cutting the cable TV and get used to watching legal content with the help of a new DroidBOX® TV BOX.