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Is IPTV legal?
There is a great deal of misinformation online regarding IPTV services and the legalization of IPTV services with many articles referring to a “crackdown” on IPTV services and forums that connect this popular broadcasting method to piracy.
Rather than wasting too much of your valuable time filtering through the half-truths and complete falsehoods, we thought it would be best to look at the facts and answer the all-important question: “Is IPTV legal?”
But before we do, let us better understand exactly what IPTV is and if IPTV is legal?
Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) is the process of transmitting and broadcasting television programs via Internet Protocol (IP). It provides a simple method for watching popular TV shows, but unlike downloaded media, it offers the option to stream the source media continuously.
The first mention of “IPTV” was in 1995 but the term has become increasingly popular over the last 5 years. You may be wondering why IPTV is different from other broadcasting methods, but to fully understand its capability, it’s important to look at the more “traditional” methods of broadcasting. With satellite TV, broadcasters send out signals and viewers receive these signals, so you’re only able to watch TV shows that are being broadcasted. So you tune in and see what shows, documentaries, films or sports events are available to watch.
IPTV is completely different. Rather than transmitting media content via these “signals” in fiber-optic cables, IPTV broadcasts shows through your standard internet connection.
With IPTV, programs are not broadcast on a specific schedule (as is the case with satellite TV), and plans can include video on demand (VOD) much like Netflix and Amazon Prime, whereby there’s no time limit on the content you can watch. IPTV can also incorporate time-shifted media, and this is where the content shared has a shelf-life, as is the case with BBC’s iPlayer. As you can see, it’s easy for the lines to get a little blurry, but in its most basic definition IPTV is television programming that is being communicated using the internet protocol, and it can include these three types of broadcasting:
- Video on demand (VOD)
- Time-shifted media
- Live IPTV or IP simulcasting – broadcasting live programs across the Internet as they’re being watched
There are plenty of IPTV service providers, and like any service, it can take a little time to fully understand whether it’s right for you. For example, some IPTV services are created with the end-user in mind, offering thousands of channels and VOD, but the key for any provider is to have a stable IPTV server, allowing for fast streaming, so users don’t have to watch their favorite shows with agonizing frustration every time the signal “drops out”.
Prices can vary considerably too, so it’s really important to do your homework, comparing the features of various providers whilst checking reviews before you come to a decision. Whether you’re keen on finding a service with HD streaming, catch-up TV and live sports, there will be plenty of different options out there. Services from major players like Netflix and Hulu offer a lot of TV shows, whilst NOW TV, TVPlayer, and Epicstream are gaining traction in this competitive marketplace. You may also want to look beyond some of the leaders and this is where rewards can be huge, but caution is key, because there are more than a few questionable IPTV providers online, hence why the term “IPTV” has been tarnished somewhat.
If I use IPTV, am I breaking the law?
What’s interesting is you would never associate BBC iPlayer, Netflix or Amazon Prime with piracy, so why is the phrase “IPTV” seemingly falling into a large grey area online? Let’s answer this by stating one very simple fact:
IPTV is technically legal.
As long as IPTV service providers are not storing the content and redistributing or selling it, then strictly speaking they aren’t doing anything illegal. If for example, you were to download and redistribute content like TV shows, documentaries or movies that have acquired from IPTV (or any other form of broadcasting), and then shared it with your friends or sold the copyrighted material, then it certainly would be illegal. But if you plan on doing nothing but watching the content available, you are not breaking the law.
You can, therefore, buy legal IPTV subscriptions. That said, it’s important to understand that there are websites out there that offer illegal streams and websites that leave you open to being hacked or having malware installed, so you must always proceed with caution when deciding on the right IPTV package for your needs.
Different service providers offer various packages too; often including monthly and annual subscription plans to access high-quality streams, so do read through the breakdown of each package carefully.
The Future of IPTV
You only have to look at the Google trends graph for the search phrase “IPTV” to see that interest is growing at a considerable rate, but it’s still very much a niche market. Initially, the goal for most IPTV companies was to reach the same level as cable operators, but the market has been evolving at a rapid pace, especially in the last few years, and more people are starting to see that IPTV services offer people a lot more than greater control.
You can, of course, watch the kind of content you want to watch, at a time that’s right for you, never having to miss your favorite TV shows whilst finding packages that are right for your interests.
As ‘personal’ TV choices continue to become the norm, IPTV has set itself apart from the competition, utilizing newer technology. It’s also worth taking note of the price difference between IPTV and cable or satellite. Packages are not only more flexible with absolutely no need for long term contracts, but they’re usually a great deal cheaper too. One of the most common drawbacks is that you need a stable internet connection for high-quality viewing, so it can mean you need to upgrade your internet for the best experience. So if you’re looking to save money and enjoy more flexibility without compromising your HD viewing experience, IPTV may be the perfect option.