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Is IPTV Legal? Explained In 2022

Nowadays, it’s hard to imagine a household without a television or a device that depends on video streaming. Television has played a crucial role in shaping a collective consciousness globally, and as technology keeps evolving, so is how TV delivers content to our devices.

Today, it is easy to watch any TV content or multimedia on any device and at a time of choice, thanks to technologies such as IPTV.

IPTV technology helps you unlock the world of video entertainment. Through IPTV, you can access TV through an internet connection. Video on Demand (VOD) and online streaming are popular forms of IPTV.

But what exactly is IPTV? Is it legal or illegal? How can you use it to watch TV? And does having all the TV content available to you infringe any copyrights? In this guide, we’ll answer these questions and more. So keep reading.

What is IPTV?

Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) is essentially TV received through the internet. IPTV uses the same concept as the way regular TV depends on cable and antennas to deliver picture and video content to your screen.

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The only difference is that IPTV relies on internet protocol (a communication protocol that helps the internet to function) for content transmissions. IPTV gets its images through the internet.

Sometimes IPTV is referred to as online streaming or video on demand, and its main advantage is that you can access any content on demand whenever you feel like it.

IPTV is popular due to the convenience it serves its users. According to a survey, more people in the US are now paying for the streaming video service than subscribing to traditional pay-tv services.

IPTV is expected to continue gaining popularity as it keeps advancing in its user-friendly features and delivers more benefits to consumers than conventional TV. With its ability to store content, you don’t have to wait for a specific broadcast time to watch your favorite TV show.

Is IPTV Legal?

On whether IPTV is legal or illegal, the answer is yes. IPTV is legal, but not all IPTV services are legal. As long as the IPTV in question holds the correct licensing for the content transmitted, it’s considered legal.

In summary, an IPTV service needs copyright permission from the owner to host copyrighted TV shows, movies, films, music videos, or any other content.

Think of Netflix, HBO, and Amazon Prime Video. All these services are legal and have the correct licensing for the content they distribute.

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Any show on legal IPTV must obtain a license and adhere to intellectual property laws. In most cases, IPTV comes at a cost in the form of a monthly subscription, but that doesn’t imply that free IPTV services are illegal.

The truth is that hundreds of IPTV service providers acquire TV shows, films, and movies illegally and operate without permission from content owners. If you use their services, you will be breaking the law too.

It is crucial to note that the government and ISPs monitor users’ online activities worldwide. If you are found streaming copyrighted content without permission, you could land in serious trouble.

To ensure that your movie streaming experience does not take a bad turn on you, I recommend that you get an excellent VPN to hide your identity.

IPTV Laws

Different countries set their IPTV laws. Therefore, the legal implications for hosting or using IPTV services depend highly on where you live.

IPTV Laws in the United States

The United States established the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in 1998 to discourage services like IPTV from offering copyrighted content through the internet without proper licenses.

The major updates of the Act were establishing protection for IPTV service providers in case their users engage in copyright infringement.

The Act encourages copyright owners to access their digital work. It makes it unlawful to provide false copyright management information such as the name of authors, the title of works, and copyright owners.

While the Act imposed penalties and fines on IPTV services for providing illegal content, there were not many penalties on IPTV users who willingly streamed copyrighted content.

However, this took a turn when the congress introduced Protecting Lawful Streaming Act, 2020. The Act allows the Department of Justice to impose felony charges on illegal IPTV services and significantly increases criminal penalties for users who stream copyrighted content illegally.

Image: Ketut Subiyanto

Under United States law, using illegal IPTV services could earn you a jail term of up to 10 years. It’s important to note that the Protecting Lawful Streaming Law (PLSA) aims to prosecute individuals and companies who run illegal IPTV services but not the end users of IPTV streams.

Therefore, it pays to first verify the credibility of your IPTV service provider.

IPTV Laws in Canada

In 2015, Canada implemented a system that allowed copyright holders to distribute notices warning suspected users of illegal IPTV through their internet service provider. Many of these demands included a cash settlement to avoid larger fines and prosecution.

This law received a lot of criticism, with users claiming that demands for cash settlements came with threats and that they were worried about their rights.

Following this criticism, the law was changed in 2019. The changes were a reprieve as copyright holders can no longer demand fees, fines, or money settlements through warnings or ask for personal information.

While notices from copyright holders no longer demand cash in Canada, using illegal IPTV may leave you open to prosecution or even higher fines.

IPTV Laws in the UK

The UK policy on IPTV use is similar to the US. In 2017, the UK introduced the Digital Economy Act that created stringent punishment for any user found guilty of copyright infringement. In addition, illegal IPTV service providers and users could face a jail sentence of up to 10 years.

While the ten-year jail term sounds harsh, until the time of writing this article, no one has yet been prosecuted for watching illegal IPTVs.

The law primarily targets illegal IPTV service providers, but it is worth noting that police have issued warnings to anyone suspected to be using illegal IPTV. Police warnings caution users to switch to legal IPTV or face legal repercussions.

How Can You Tell if an IPTV is Legal or Illegal?

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It’s easy to tell that an IPTV is legal from its reputation. Most extensive and well-known IPTV service providers like Amazon Prime Video and Netflix are legal.

But what if you came across an IPTV service provider that you have never heard of? How can you tell whether they are legal or not? Since I have discussed what legal and illegal IPTVs are, I’ll go straight to the signs to look for.

First, if an IPTV service is free, chances are that the service is illegal and is a reasonable basis for scrutiny.

While some TV networks with specific IPTV offer free streaming services, most legal IPTV services require you to subscribe at a fee.

Be on the lookout for how much an IPTV subscription could cost you, as some illegal IPTVs will also offer you lower subscription rates while avoiding paying for licenses and production costs.

Another sign to look for in the legality of IPTV services is when an IPTV asks you to pay in Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. It might be hard to track cryptocurrencies as opposed to regular currencies, making them ideal for illegal IPTV services.

Legal IPTV provides content and TV channels from within your country. Watch out for IPTV service providers who give access to region-locked content as it’s a good indication that its legality is questionable.

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Another telltale sign to look for in an IPTV is the quality of the streams. Legal IPTV services with the required licenses offer content of high quality. Illegal IPTV providers acquire their content through means that are likely to compromise the content quality, hence the low-quality streams.

Lastly, popups and misleading buttons will guide you into knowing whether an IPTV is legal or not. It could be illegal if you are overwhelmed with popup ads when you load up an IPTV service.

Illegal IPTV services also feature fake playback buttons that open an external link instead of playing, pausing, or changing volume.

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Is it Worth Risking Using an Illegal IPTV?

The answer is no. From the regulations discussed earlier, you might be tempted to think that as an IPTV service end user, you’ll get away with using illegal IPTV scot-free.

However, while it’s true that punishing illegal IPTV service providers is more pronounced than punishing end users, it does not mean that as an end user you are not subject to monetary fines, prosecution, or even jail terms.

Besides prosecution, illegal IPTV exposes you to various safety issues. Hence, it’s not worth the risk. When an illegal IPTV service asks you for your credit card details for payment, you have no control over who else the service passes your information to.

An illegal IPTV provider can choose to sell off your card details to hackers and scammers, putting you at risk of serious financial troubles. Once you pay, there is no guarantee that the IPTV provider will offer you the needed services.

An illegal IPTV service can also harvest data from whichever device you use, and again you have no control over who the IPTV provider decides to sell your data to.

Illegitimate IPTV services are packed with malware and viruses that can threaten the security of your devices.

These security risks come disguised as download links for the content you are looking for or fake playback buttons acting as external links, only to lure you into installing malware on your device.

Using an illegal IPTV service breaches your internet service provider’s terms of service. Your ISP will warn you whenever it suspects you have been using illegal streaming services.

Image: Ksenia Chernaya

If your illegal streaming persists, your internet service provider will cut off your internet connection leaving you with no access to any online service.

If you have doubts about the safety of your preferred IPTV services, I advise that you install a trusted Virtual Private Network (VPN) to your device.

A reliable VPN can mask your online activities, stop sites from collecting your data, stop your internet service provider from tracking your online activities, and protect your device against scammers, hackers, viruses, and malware.

A VPN can also help you alter the location you connect from, which gives you access to region-locked content on legal IPTV without resorting to using anything illegal.

Examples of Legal IPTV Services

Netflix

Netflix is one of the most known online streaming services that allow you to watch movies and stream TV shows to your Smart TV, PC, Mac, smartphone, tablet, or game console. Netflix is home to a large volume of licensed content, movies, documentaries, and original TV shows.

Disney+

Disney+ is an IPTV by Disney that features a pool of thousands of TV shows, documentaries, and movies from all its media empire. Besides Disney classics, Disney+ offers content from National Geographic, Star Wars, Marvel, and 21st Century, among others.

HBO Max

HBO Max is an independent streaming platform that brings together all HBO offerings alongside your favorite TV shows and movies.

Apple TV+

Apple TV+ is new to the market but seems to be breaking through the streaming market, offering various TV shows, documentaries, movies, and Apple originals that you cannot find anywhere else.

Final Words

There are hundreds of IPTC services available, but not all are reliable. So, don’t let the promises of cheap and free IPTV draw you to undesirable IPTV services. To be safe, make sure that you stick to well-established and legitimate IPTV providers.

They may be more expensive than the unverified IPTV offerings, but it’s worth paying the price to enjoy high-quality and on-demand streaming without the fear of landing yourself in trouble of being hacked or getting viruses and malware to your device.

So, verify the legitimacy of your IPTV service provider, sign up, and have fun streaming your favorite TV shows and movies.