While most people know the legal implications of illegally downloading movies and TV shows, some have been exploiting a ‘loophole’ by streaming with a VPN (virtual private network) that just might be legal.
The problem: Users unhappy with delayed viewing
With the advent of reasonably priced streaming services, the behaviour of many Australian users to illegally download content has reduced. However, the problem for many Australians is that many movies and shows are not available on the Australian versions of these legal streaming services.
While internet streaming is clearly the future, especially in Australia where the NBN is giving Australian users access to super-fast internet, many are frustrated that a show or movie might be released somewhere, but not be available simply because you’re trying to watch from Australia.
Streaming with a VPN – a loophole?
Some users have been using a VPN to connect to versions of the streaming services where their favourite shows are available. So, if a show or movie is not available on the Australian streaming service, users can connect with a VPN to the US site and happily watch their show.
While technically the user is violating the platform’s terms of service, so far the platform has rarely ‘gone after’ the Aussie entertainment-seeker because they are actually a paying client.
Using a VPN to stream content – Is it legal?
While illegal downloading is not a grey area when it comes to copyright laws, using a VPN to access legitimate content in another region is very much a shade of grey. So, at the moment, the 15% of Australians who have used a VPN to watch a show outside of their region have actually slipped through an unresolved loophole.
Enjoy the loophole while it lasts?
It is a case of the law lagging behind these fast-moving times we live in. The laws regarding illegal downloading are clear, but accessing blocked regional content via streaming currently falls outside of those forbidden areas of downloading, copying and reproducing copyrighted content.
What is important for these VPN streamers, however, is to watch how the laws develop. The practice may be technically legal, but it is very much frowned upon and the loophole should be regarded as being only temporarily open, because authorities will likely clamp down on the practice.
Get Criminal Law Help Now!
Ask a free legal question in the Criminal Law Forum.
Get legal advice from an Australian Criminal Lawyer near you.