Streaming movies becomes illegal in Germany

Not just in Germany, but especially in Germany because we know how keen they are to write official letters to offenders. I wrote about this issue a couple of years ago, but the situation has changed.

According to the European Court of Justice, the streaming of pirated (illegally copied) movies, series or sports is illegal. Until this year, viewing an illegal stream was a grey zone which was unenforceable and fines were only issued to those caught downloading or uploading illegal files. However, now, if the person viewing the stream knows or should have known that the site was illegal. The definition of how you should know is a little fuzzy, but essentially if you are searching for the latest content (movie/series/live sports) online and you find it streamed for free, then it is probably illegal. But come on, honestly, if you are reading this then you know what you have been doing is illegal ;-).

The original ruling from the European Court was issued in April but this apparently is a guideline for countries in the EU. However lawyers in German are starting to get itchy trigger fingers probably because this is about to happen. In terms of potential fines, one German lawyer quoted by Focus suggests approximately €150 per offense.  This about €10 to cover the cost of not paying to watch the content and €140 for the effort of the lawyer to send you the letter. Of course.

Now although the law can be applied retrospectively, this is unlikely to happen because most of these sort of streaming sites very kindly don’t record IP addresses of viewers (very considerate when you think about it). Therefore the people most at risk are those who have become premium members of these sites and handed over credit card information or email addresses to the illegal streaming sites.

I know that a lot of people use VPNs to hide behind and to stay safe, and although this probably works, it doesn’t change the fact that it is still illegal. Whether or not the authorities find a way around this or not, I have no idea, but its up to you if this is something you want to try.

Now before you get overly-worried, it is still early days. As the article from Focus points out, watching these illegal streams is becoming dangerous and users need to watch out. But to date there has been no mass sending of warning letters and fines. Yet.

Maybe for now it is best to stick to Netflix and Amazon Prime…

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41 thoughts on “Streaming movies becomes illegal in Germany

    1. Popcorn time uses torrents, don’t use it as torrents are very easy to track. Loads of expats have learned that one the hard way

  1. what should i do if i recive a fine i am an Exchange Student and i did not know it was illegal should i pay and what happen if i did not

    1. Well, officially, it doesn’t matter who you are or what your status is, you have to pay. Ignorance isn’t an excuse, because no one will believe that you didn’t know it was illegal. It is just that you didn’t know you have to pay a fine. If you decide not to pay then I guess it just depends on which country you return to and whether the german authorities can be bothered to chase you. And to be honest I don’t know if anyone can tell you that.

    1. It’s simple. It doesn’t matter what the website is, if the content is free and you would normally have to pay for it, then it is probably illegal.

    2. And you probably know if you have gone to a website that is streaming illegal content. For example the site you keep mentioning. I have never used it but it is pretty obvious that it is offering pirated content

      1. I understand. but than you tube schold be also illigal than or ?
        Because they are offering also online free movies, songs etc etc ..

  2. I had very bad experience with torrent and i had to pay toooooo much money.
    MEDIA RULES made us fool. Like U -torrent or Bt torrent..
    There are many german compinies will find only the forignners,who watched or downloaded movies etc from these kind of website.. I really dont understand instead of finding us and sending the Straffe, they should work on these kind of websites and block them .. simple..

  3. Is streaming from dailymotion illegal? Im under the impression that dailymotion would have to remove the video. Just like youtube does when its copy right infringement, but if they dont notice and you stream it on youtube ,you wouldn’t get in trouble, right? is it the same with dailymotion?

  4. I love watching documentaries, and a good source for finding said documentaries is daily motion.
    Could I be fined for watching full documentaries on daily motion?

    1. Probably not. It depends if the content is copy righted. But I doubt that documentaries are a high priority and daily motion is normally a safe site.

  5. Is illegal?
    oh my goodness, ive watched countless movies on it; I had no idea that streaming was illegal.
    I d only thought that downloading was illegal, for obvious reasons, (popcorn, torrents …)

    last year when I came here I started browsing and reading about this stuff and no where did I find that streaming was illegal, even my landlord said it was okay and that I only needed to stay away from downloading stuff.

    1. Dude, I also knew that downloading was illegal. Since then I have researched and now I’m very confused if you will get finned or not for streaming. Some websites say that its illegal but they didn’t say that you can get finned.

  6. Germany is a just country. In order to benefit, you need to pay. Otherwise just leave, since this country might not be for you.

    1. Its the content, not the platform, that you have to worry about. But if you are asking, then it probably means the content is illegal.

  7. dailymotion doesn’t work for me and i’m based in Germany. Also how does the government track you if you do what some of the kids in our childrens’ school do which is download at starbucks using the free wifi or their own schools? Furthermore, how does the government charge retroactively, thats impossible. I know that popcorn is illegal because someone we know was charged 800 euro for just watching a movie on the popcorn app. Which btw is f***ing idiotic to even offer the app if you knowingly know that it has illegal content.

  8. I recieved an email that doesn’t list what I did wrong to recieve the fine or my name. Could this be real?

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