Is It Illegal to Download Movies for Free?

It is illegal in the United States to download copyright-protected content for free unless authorized by the copyright holder or an official vendor, according to Webster University. As there is no single international copyright law, the legality of downloading varies from country to country, adds the U.S. Copyright Office.

In the United States, The Motion Picture Association of America works to prevent the online copyright infringement, or piracy, of commercial film, says Webster University. Users caught illegally downloading films may be subject to the termination of Internet service, fines, litigation, and imprisonment. Many films are available online for free legal download, particularly older films whose copyrights have expired, notes Moviefone.