Since the 1950s, television has played a central role in many Americans’ lives. By a factor of 10, the US film industry has grown and evolved into the world’s largest in terms of revenue in video entertainment.
Now, as technology advances and becomes even more integrated, we’re able to watch just about any TV program or film on any device at any time.
IPTV is a technology that allows us to easily access the world of video entertainment. IPTV – what is it? What are the legal and safety implications of IPTV? Is it possible to watch TV and movies on it? This article will answer these questions and more.
IPTV: What Is It?
The term IPTV stands for Internet Protocol Television, which seems complicated but is actually quite straightforward. In essence, IPTV is any TV you receive over the internet. IP, or Internet Protocol, is a communication protocol that enables the internet to function. IPTV is a TV that uses IP for transmission rather than traditional methods such as satellite or cable.
More commonly, IPTV is referred to as video on demand or online streaming. IPTV services are popular because they offer television content on demand. They don’t follow a set schedule like typical live TV. Rather than waiting to watch your favorite TV show at a certain time, you can choose what to watch whenever you want.
What is the legal status of IPTV?
IPTV is legal depending on the service. As long as the service provider holds the appropriate licenses for all its content, IPTV is legal. IPTV providers must obtain permission from the copyright owner to stream copyrighted TV programs, films, or other content.
Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are completely legal services. Their streaming content is licensed correctly. In contrast, there are hundreds of IPTV providers who obtain TV shows and films illegally and do not have the proper licensing. The IPTV providers are breaking the law. You’re also breaking the law if you use their services.
Illegal IPTV Laws: What Are They?
Depending on your location, the legal ramifications of hosting or using one of these illegitimate services will vary.
UK law on illegal IPTV
In 2017, the UK introduced the Digital Economy Act, which imposed tougher punishments for copyright violations. IPTV users and providers who violate the law can face prison sentences of up to 10 years.
While nobody has yet been prosecuted just for using illegal IPTVs (the legislation has primarily been used to target the people operating these services) police have issued mass warnings to suspected illegal IPTV users in some instances, threatening legal action if they continued to use them.
US law on illegal IPTV
Originally passed in 1998, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act covers copyright infringement in the US. Anyone who provides copyrighted content on the internet without the appropriate license is subject to penalties and fines under the DMCA. DMCA only applied to downloads, so streaming was something of a loophole.
However, this loophole was recently closed. A COVID relief bill passed in December 2020 included measures that made illegal streaming a crime. Accordingly, US law allows jail sentences of up to 10 years for using illegal IPTV services.
It has since been clarified that the new law, the Protecting Lawful Streaming Act, is intended to prosecute people who operate illegal streaming services rather than those who consume them.
Canada’s law on illegal IPTV
Since 2015, Canadian copyright holders have been able to send warning notices to suspected users of illegal IPTVs through their ISPs (internet service providers). To avoid prosecution and larger fines, many of these warnings included demands for cash settlements.
In 2019, the law on these notices was changed as a result of widespread criticism stemming from the fact that recipients of these warnings were under no obligation to pay the settlements, leading to many Canadians paying fines they didn’t have to. These fines were also imposed on people who were wrongly accused of illegal streaming.
Copyright holders could no longer demand settlement fees in these warnings or ask for personal information as a result of the 2019 changes. Users of illegal IPTVs may be open to prosecution and even higher fines even though copyright holders may no longer demand cash.
Is IPTV Legal or Illegal?
As Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are big, well-known brands, the biggest legal IPTV services are easily identified by their reputations alone. How do you know if an IPTV provider you haven’t heard of is legal?
You can look for a few telltale signs. Firstly, if the IPTV offers its services for free, chances are it’s illegal. In the UK, Channel 4’s All4 service is one example of an IPTV service that offers free streaming. However, most legitimate IPTV services require subscriptions.
Check out how much these subscriptions usually cost. Subscription fees are charged by some illegal IPTV services, but they are much lower than those charged by legal IPTV services because they avoid licensing and production costs.
Other ways to tell if you’re using an illegal IPTV service include:
Payment in Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies: Cryptocurrencies are harder to track than ordinary money, making them ideal for illegal activities.
Most legal streaming IPTV only offers content and channels from within your country. Content that’s normally region-locked could be an indication that an IPTV service isn’t legitimate if it provides access to it.
IPTV services with the correct licenses source their content directly from the copyright holder in high-quality streams. A significant drop in video or audio quality can often be expected with illegal IPTV services since they must obtain their content through other means.
If you’re bombarded with popups when you load up an IPTV service, chances are it’s not legitimate. Additionally, illegal IPTVs may feature fake playback buttons that open external links instead of pausing, playing, or changing the volume.
Is it a good idea to use illegal IPTV services?
Simply put, no. Illegitimate IPTV streams may expose you to prosecution, fines, or even jail time. You are also exposed to a number of other safety risks.
If an IPTV service asks for your credit card details for payment, you have no control over who else gets your financial information. You may be putting yourself at serious financial risk if your details are sold off to hackers or scammers. In addition, there is no guarantee you’ll actually be able to access IPTV content once you’ve paid.
It is also possible for illegal IPTV services to harvest data from whatever device you use to access them. There is no control over who receives this data, and you could be exposed to scams.
Furthermore, illegal IPTV services can compromise your device’s security. There are many illegal streaming sites that are filled with viruses and malware, often disguised as download links for the content that you want to watch. Your device could also be infected with malware if fake playback buttons lead to external websites.
In addition, using an illegal IPTV service may violate your ISP’s terms of service. You will usually receive a warning from your ISP if it suspects you are using illegal streaming services. However, repeated warnings may eventually result in your internet connection being cut off, leaving you unable to access any online services.
Installing a trusted VPN (virtual private network) such as ExpressVPN is a good idea if you have any doubts about the safety of IPTV services. By using a VPN, you can mask your online activity, prevent sites from gathering your data, prevent your ISP from tracking your activity, and secure your device against hackers, viruses, and malware. (How to install antivirus on FireStick).
Additionally, a VPN allows you to change your location when connecting to the internet, so that you can access region-locked content on legal IPTV services without resorting to illegal methods.
Unverified IPTV examples
It is difficult to keep track of all IPTV services and verify which ones have the correct licenses for the content they offer due to the sheer number. Unverified IPTVs include, however, the following:
A binge-watching service
Streaming service iconicstreams
Aside from the sites I just listed, Kodi is another big name in illegal streaming. The Kodi software itself is legal. Various addons are available to customize the user experience with this open-source media player. Kodi is, however, the foundation of Kodi boxes, which plug into your TV and give you free access to IPTV subscription services like Netflix. Police may seize these Kodi boxes and prosecute users for using them.
Legal IPTV services to consider
There are many well-established, legal ways to enjoy IPTV. Here are some of the best IPTV streaming services:
As one of the first big streaming services to mainstream IPTV, Netflix is probably the most well-known online streaming service. In addition to licensed content, Netflix also produces original TV shows, movies, and documentaries.
If you’re willing to pay extra, you can also add addons like Starz TV and Shudder to Amazon Prime Video’s IPTV service. Your digital library can also be expanded by purchasing or renting additional TV box sets and movies.
Recently, Disney introduced its own IPTV service, bringing together thousands of TV shows, movies, and documentaries from across its media empire. You’ll also find content from National Geographic, 21st Century Fox, Star Wars, Marvel, and more.
The HBO Max IPTV platform lets you watch HBO originals and other TV series and movies. During COVID restrictions, Warner Bros. used HBO Max to release its full slate of movies.
Similarly to other IPTV services, Apple TV+ offers a wide variety of TV shows, movies, and documentaries, including Apple originals that aren’t available elsewhere.
What is the best way to use IPTV?
Hundreds of IPTV services are available, but not all of them are reliable. Don’t be swayed by promises of cheap or free content. These sites often make illegal and unlicensed promises. Your private information and device security are at risk when you use them.
You are at your own risk if you decide to use one of these unverified IPTV sites. Consider using a VPN if you choose to go this route for peace of mind and extra safety.
IPTV services that are legitimate and well-established are the best option, however. It may be more expensive to subscribe to a legitimate IPTV service than to use an illegal one. On the other hand, it’s a fair price to pay to enjoy high-quality on-demand streaming without the risk of legal trouble, being hacked, or getting malware.