Streaming copyrighted material from third party sources online is legal, if simply watched. While viewing the material online falls into a legal grey area, downloading or uploading the content is illegal. The exception to this infringement would be utilizing a subscription provider, such as Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Instant Video.
Although watching uploaded content online is not technically an illegal practice, it is among a number of topics on Internet law that is questioned. While viewing the material is generally not targeted for prosecution, downloading or uploading is illegal. Downloading even a minute portion of the content would register as a copyright violation, since the owner does not receive any money. This practice is known as "pseudo-streaming" and is illegal and prosecutable under copyright law.
But downloading the material is not the only illegal activity surrounding free online streaming, as uploading content is also a violation. When uploading another individual's work, a copy is created, which is an illicit activity under the most basic of copyright laws. Uploading is the equivalent to downloading the material and showing it to a large group, which is also an offense. As of 2015, the hosting websites that display the copyrighted material are in clear violation of the law.