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Ethical to stream TV Shows and Movies?

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The Individual

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Objectivism is against theft. So, if it's your movie or TV-series, it would be ethical to stream it, as long as it makes good business sense for you. Many TV channels do stream their programs online, and sell advertising. (on hulu.com for instance)

But, if it's not your movie or TV show, it is not OK to do anything with it, except buy it and watch it, or watch it on TV, or some place where the owner of the TVshow is streaming it for you. If you share something online, without the owner's permission, that's theft, no matter if its someone's car or a movie.

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No, that's not an official website sanctioned by any of the networks. It's easy to tell the difference: whenever there are no commercials, and a lot of links to other websites, many of them broken, it's just pirated content, that gets put up (illegally) by people who don't have the rights to the content, onto various video streaming sites, for a few days, until those sites are forced to take them down. Uploading content onto youtube or another website, without the permission of the owner of that content (I've seen NBC, FOX, CBS etc. shows up there), is theft, and knowingly accepting the stolen merchandise is also theft.

The Sidereel website itself is technically (and for now) legal (but also very much unethical), because it only provides links to the videos, but hosting the stolen content is not: hence the reason why it is taken off in a matter of hours from youtube, and days from smaller sites based in countries which drag their feet in fighting copyright violations.

However, these are all just loopholes in poorly written and enforced laws, exploiting them is in no way moral. That content is all the property of the various networks, and they did not give permission to whoever uploaded them onto these Asian and Russian video streaming websites, that are generally slow in taking them down.

P.S. It wasn't unethical for you to watch those shows there, before you found out that the owners of those videos were in fact the victims of theft. Now that you know, it would be.

It is also quite morally commendable, that you took the steps to find out what the source of that content is, and it would've been immoral not to try and find out.

I think most FOX and NBC shows are available on HULU.com, the day after they've been broadcast on the network, ABC shows are up on ABC.com. For CBS, they had a contract with myspace at one point, I'm not sure where they are now. And probably all shows the networks make available online are listed on their own websites.

Edited by Jake_Ellison
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I stream my shows and movies from SideReel. Is that ethical?
If the quality is bad or there are Asian language subtitles, you can be certain that the content is stolen. If you are redirected to a dubious country, same. If you can download the content (not just view, but actually download), it's stolen. A place that brags that it "rips" dvd's is bragging that it steals. If you are redirected to a brand-name provider (Amazon, Apple, Hulu) then you can be certain that the content is legitimate.

The question you should ask is, is it reasonable that this content is out there in public? It's easy to rationalize, thinking "I have no idea why networks do what they do" or "Maybe there's some rich Romanian who bought the rights to these movies and put them out for all to see". It's hard to know for sure in marginal cases.

Evasion consists of ignoring something that you know, and exploiting uncertainty is a typical mechanism of evasion -- deciding "I don't know for certain that this movie is stolen, although I'm aware of strange circumstances such as the fact that the stuff is hosted in some foreign country. But I can't pay attention to that unless I'm certain of what it means".

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