Piracy is widely prevalent. Many youngsters would argue that indulging in online piracy is more often than not, a result of either inaccessibility to content or expensiveness associated with entertainment (movie tickets, cable TV subscriptions, etc.). However, the fact remains that piracy is wrong, and illegal; and the creator must always be credited! Unless you’re okay with bearing a moral burden or receiving a DMCA notice, we’d suggest that you steer clear of any illegal streaming sites. Moreover, these sites can also infect your device with malware, gather personal information and credit card details, or display tons of annoying ads.
There are hundreds of websites/apps which enable users to stream TV Shows or movies for free but a lot of them are just imposters. So how do you know which one is genuine and which one offers copyrighted material? Well, here are nine tell-tale signs that would help you to spot an illegal streaming site.
Signs Of Illegal Streaming Sites:
Popup Ads: Free streaming sites usually don’t have a premium membership plan because their focus is on providing entertainment at zero cost while earning through advertisements. If you visit an illegal website, you’re less likely to be interrupted with ads while streaming. However, if you click anywhere on the screen, it will be magically open new tabs displaying banner graphics. Your screen may also be bombarded with pop-ups and irrelevant ads. i.e – If you are trying to use a site to watch free movies online and it has a lot of popup ads then it is a illegal site for sure.
No Information on Content Source: Legal sites will usually boast about their deals and partnerships as far as content is concerned. Even free services like “Crackle” and “Tubi TV” tell you about their content partners through their Wikipedia page, press releases, official announcements, and site pages. Legit services secure all the permissions and licensure required to distribute content. Illegal websites on the other hand, do not reveal their source of content under any circumstances. If you attempt to find any details regarding the aforementioned, all you’ll get is a stream of articles stating that the content is pirated.
A Crappy Web Design: Illegal services do not have the time or motivation for developing a professional website. Even a kid will easily be able to catch basic errors such as typos, grammatical mistakes, and missing graphics. These sites sport the ugliest designs as far as fonts and colors are concerned. The layout is normally very shabby with inferior search functionalities and confusing navigation tabs. Legit streaming services spend tons of money and effort into web design and development to make the user-experience as smooth and easy as possible.
Lack of Mobile Apps: Most online businesses, including streaming services, understand the importance of having a mobile app. However, imposters will be unable to publish a solid app on an iOS or Android platform even if they wanted to. That is because neither of the platforms encourage downloading or streaming of pirated content. They follow a certain process which involves a thorough check of the company before finally giving the green light. That aside, developing a superior mobile app can be quite expensive; something that an illegal service would avoid at all costs. So if you don’t find an app on either the App Store or Google Play Store, you know you need to stay away.
Availability of Fresh Releases: As disappointing as it may be, legal streaming sites would never have the latest content in their library. We’re talking about the movies which are still running in theatres, TV series which have just come out, and even upcoming titles. On the contrary, illegal streaming sites will usually have titles which are fresh out of the oven, including the ones that are perhaps not even being shown in your local movie cinema yet. These guys even beat the DVD manufacturing companies! In fact, “recentness of content” is one of their prime focus points as it is the easiest way to lure a consumer. This is perhaps the most evident signs of an illegal platform!
Never-ending Links: Have you ever come across a streaming site where you’re redirected to another page the moment you hit the play icon? You think that maybe this is the screen where you’ll be able to stream, then you press play again, only to be taken to yet another page. Some of these links even prompt you to download a particular software in order to watch the titles you’re trying to play. The link-chasing game is unending and very frustrating to be honest. Almost always, the purpose is to either obtain your credentials or rack up a massive amount of revenue through ads. None of this occurs on a legal streaming site. You select a title, press play, and the streaming begins!
No .com in Domain: You have to remember that illegal sites are being taken down everyday. In order to remain hidden, these sites are normally hosted in distant and relatively less known locations. That’s why, most of them will not have a “.com” at the end of their domain name, unlike legit sites. Names like “Gowatchseries.biz” and “Series-cravings.me” should be enough to present caution.
Browser Warnings: Sometimes, when you open an illegal website, your browser itself warns you by displaying messages like “Warning: Something’s Not Right Here!”. This is all thanks to the regular security updates. If you still ignore the warning and decide to go ahead and access the website, you’ll be at the risk of infecting your PC/laptop with dangerous malware. However, not all browses are equipped with the best security systems so you need to be very careful. Legal websites let you enter without any kind of advisories.
“About Us” Section Missing: This is probably the most fundamental step before making a website live. Any legal business online will have an “About Us” or “Who We Are” page that describes the visions, missions, services, and background of the company. This tab is located either at the top of the homepage or right at the bottom. You should also try and find a “Contact Us” section, which states phone numbers and/or addresses to reach out to the company. In case you find important site pages like these missing, you know it’s a fake one.
Although illegal streaming services do offer latest releases which can be quite tempting, it’s best to stay away from them. You might think that using a paid VPN service is the solution because the consumers are large in number; but if there’s no host, there’s no content. Sooner or later, they will be cracked down anyway.
All the above points are classic clues to differentiate between legal and illegal streaming sites. However, its important to keep in mind that these signs are not the ultimate determinants of the same.
Happy legal streaming!