The ins and outs of online streaming using Putlocker. Is it safe and legal?

Online video consumption is one of the most popular internet activities worldwide, with 80% of the population thought to have used a streaming service to watch a movie or series online. Clearly, with figures like that, companies (operating legally and illegally) have a lot to gain from controlling as much of the market share as possible, which explains the proliferation of sites such as Putlocker. 

What is Putlocker?

If you haven’t heard of Putlocker before don’t worry, it isn’t exceptionally well known for many online users. In brief, Putlocker is a filing index that hosts other websites where users can watch over 5000 television series and movies for free – either on your desktop or on your smartphone’s internet browser. 

When you type in the name of the show or film you want to watch on the Putlocker page, you’ll be presented with four or five links that should allow you to stream that content for free and without creating an account. 

The first Putlocker was set up in 2011 and became hugely popular, before it was shut down in 2016 by the High Court in the UK. Prior to its closure, the hosting domain at the time for the most popular Putlocker was putlocker.is, which is said to have become one of the top 250 websites visited globally

The site’s domain address has thus changed a number of times since its creation due to the fact that it is considered a piracy threat. Although it’s difficult to permanently stamp out the problem of privacy when a new site takes seconds to set up.

Is using Putlocker illegal? 

The short answer to this question is yes. This is because streaming movies or series this way without paying infringes on copyright law. Even though the chances of getting caught and prosecuted for this behaviour is slim, it is still a possibility. Of course, this will vary by jurisdiction but usually it is the person uploading the content who is held responsible in such cases, rather than the viewer. 

For instance in 2018, an American citizen was found guilty of infringing copyright for downloading the movie Deadpool from Putlocker and posting it to Facebook just eight days after the film was released in the US. As a result, the film was viewed over five million times for free – resulting in significant revenue loss for the film makers. His final sentence was 24 days in Federal prison, followed by a year of supervised release and 20 hours of community service per week. 

Other risks from Putlocker and how to protect yourself

If you are using Putlocker then making sure you’re using it safely should be a top priority. The site is famous for the number of pop-ups it bombards you with and clicking on the ads just makes new ones appear. Unfortunately, these can infect your computer with malware or con you into giving out your personal information. It is therefore key to use an ad blocker

For even greater protection you can also use a VPN when using Putlocker. A VPN hides your IP address and encrypts all your internet activity meaning nothing you do online can be traced back to you. It can also prevent mal-advertising reaching you. However, most VPNs cost money so it may not be that much different than simply paying for a streaming service (although granted you can use the VPN for more than just Putlocker).

What are your thoughts on Putlocker? Let us know in the comments section. And, if you have any questions or other technology queries, please tweet us at @techtroublesho1.

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