Is It Illegal to Stream TV Shows Online for Free?


Quick Answer

Streaming online TV shows is illegal if doing it involves downloading even a portion of the file, because downloading constitutes copying the copyrighted material, Business Insider explains. Streaming a TV show to show it to a significant number of people is also illegal because it constitutes a public performance.

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Full Answer

While streaming unlicensed content is otherwise legal, the quality of TV shows uploaded to sites showing unlicensed content tends to be very poor, and the shows often include pop-up ads. In addition, using unlicensed sites can expose a person's computer to viruses and malware. However, uploading copyrighted content to any streaming site without a license to do so is illegal, Business Insider reports.

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