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Is It Safe to Pirate Movies, Music, Books and Apps?

Authored by:
Support.com Tech Pro Team
This Guided Path® was written and reviewed by Support.com’s Tech Pro team. With decades of experience, our Tech Pros are passionate about making technology work for you. We love feedback! Let us know what you think about this Guided Path by rating it at the end.

A list of free pirating software

In order to avoid spoilers, watching a show or movie as soon as it's released just has to happen. But, there are multiple streaming platforms now, all with their own subscription fees and set of shows. Which one do we choose?

What's wrong with choosing free? What's wrong with browsing the web for a site that streams Game of Thrones?

There are sites that offer Game of Thrones, recent movies like Avengers Endgame, all for free. Some sites even claim to stream the Mandalorian without a Disney+ subscription. At least until the website loads and pop-up after pop-up are delivered. The movie never really loads, just the pop-ups. After the pop-ups load, it may even demand money to watch the show after all.

Similarly, getting to the local library to get the latest novel is going to be hard with coronavirus on everyone's minds. Most of them will be closed. Despite that, new books are still being released and even advertised for free on dubious sites. Just like promising free movies and music, free epub books are also on these websites.

When asking about free on the Internet, most likely the answer will be digital piracy. Piracy was beginning to die down a bit since things were more available and easier to get to online. Since streaming platforms have multiplied and split, often taking their shows with them, there are not only more options but more subscription fees. It's no longer as easy and convenient to get shows, movies, music, and books. Now, it's easier and certainly cheaper just to take it.

In order for something to be free someone had to provide it. In the case of digital piracy, they had to steal it. Sometimes they even bought it and want to provide it to others for free. The act of downloading or streaming is piracy.

Just because it says it's free, doesn't mean it actually is. It certainly isn't safe. Free things are often trojans and loaded with malware.

The Dangers of "Free"

Free is tempting. Free is a word that'll get your attention quickly. Unfortunately, free on the Internet is often a synonym for illegal or a scam. Free sites will often force pop-ups or demand that you create an account. Once you create an account they'll sell your information, or even demand money.

Free Movies Will Push Pop-Ups

Avoiding these "free" sites can help you prevent pop-ups on your Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft Edge browsers.

The pop-ups that tag along on websites offering free products tend to take over your entire system. They maximum themselves and refuse to be removed when you try to close them. Some demand a click. Some yell at you. A few will demand you call a scammer hotline because you've either broken the law or downloaded malware.

In some cases you'll need to use your computer's Task Manager to close the browser in order to get rid of the pop-up.

Free Downloads and Torrents Often Contain Malware

Free sites often piggyback malware on their downloads. If the download itself isn't infected, they'll try to trick you into clicking on the wrong thing. Free download sites often surround their download link or hide it behind links that lead you to malware or scams.
An example of a bad free streaming site with annoying pop ups

Torrents can contain more than just the movie, app, or album you wanted to download. They can also contain keyloggers. Keyloggers have the ability to steal passwords and are considered malware that can mess up your system.

Free Could be a Scam

The algorithms for searching for free content have now been changed. Scammers have taken advantage of this and load their sites with SEO to trick you into clicking on it.

If you want to download something for free, first search for that exact content. For example; if I want to watch 2015's The Wicked Within I would search for "The Wicked Within 2015". Google will often give you options at the top for legitimate ways to access that content. Unfortunately, you may have to pay a little for it.
Legal ways to watch movies and their prices

Free is Often Pirated and Illegal

In order for you to get most of this free content, someone had to steal it. For your free movies, someone had to record it from the theater. For free apps, someone had to crack it. For free music and books, someone has purchased it and made it available.

All of this is known on the Internet as pirating. When pirating first took off in the late 90s and early 2000s it focused mostly on music. Software such as Napster and Limewire were created to allow people to share files amongst themselves. So many of these files had tag-along viruses and malware.

Free content may be advertised to you on websites. It may be on a torrent site for you to download. The questionable legality was brought into the national eye when Napster and Limewire were taken to court. Then, Pirate Bay and KAT were given the same treatment. They were taken to court and the providers of those sites were arrested.

Not only do you run the risk of ruining your system, but the content publishing companies might take you to court. Now-a-days your ISP will contact you first when they catch you. Normally you get three strikes, after that they block your Internet.

Legitimate Free Services and Paid Alternatives

While paid and subscription services do cost money most of them will offer a 14 or 30 day free trial. With it you can try before you really buy and decide which service is right for you. Many subscription services come with additions as well. Amazon Prime is a yearly subscription that offers you additional sales, items, and free 2-day shipping. It also offers you music, shows, movies, and even free games.

If you're looking for free software you'll need to look for demos, free trials, or completely free apps. In order to get most apps for free you'll need to find them cracked, which is illegal. Luckily, many popular apps will have demos right on their website so there's no need to go hunting for them.

The benefit to paying for your entertainment is pretty obvious when considering the potential dangers of getting it for free. Not only does getting it for free harm the content creator, downloading free content from dubious sources puts your ability to get the internet in danger. The record labels may even try to take you to court. And that's just the monetary issues you could run into. Free downloads are, as stated above, often infected with malware.

Paying for it or using a legitimate free service to get your entertainment may take a bit more time and cost but at least it's safe.

Movies
Amazon Prime logo Amazon Prime A paid service that offers several shows and movies as well as Amazon originals.
Netflix Netflix A subscription service that lets you watch and stream movies and shows.
Hulu logo
Hulu Hulu is like Netflix in that it has both movies and shows for a subscription.
TubiTV logo TubiTV Offers free movies and television shows on a rotating schedule.
YouTube Logo YouTube Gives you access to many free movies and content creators making entertainment.
The Crackle logo Crackle Lets you watch Hollywood movies for free-uncut and unedited.

Music
Spotify. Spotify Search for any track, artist or album and listen for free. Make and share playlists. Get inspired with personal recommendations, and readymade playlists for just about everything. Listen absolutely free with ads, or get Spotify Premium.
Pandora. Pandora A personalized music experience that continually evolves with your tastes. Create stations from your favorite songs, artists or genres. Or search browse to find recommended stations for your mood or activity.
Google Play music. Google Play Music Millions of songs and thousands of playlists for any situation. Powered by Google, serves up music based on where you are and why you’re listening, gets smarter and more assistive as it get to know your tastes. Subscribe to create playlists, listen offline, and get ad-free YouTube with YouTube Red (where available).
iTunes.  iTunes Visit the iTunes Store on iOS to buy and download your favorite songs, TV shows, movies, and podcasts.
Soundcloud logo Soundcloud Explore the largest community of artists, bands, podcasters and creators of music & audio.
Apple Music logo Apple Music Stream 60 million songs ad-free, follow along and tap ahead as you listen with lyrics view, or download your favorite tracks and play them offline.
Amazon Music logo Amazon Music Listen to your favorite songs online from your web browser. Stream music now using the web player.

Books
The OpenLibrary Logo OpenLibrary An open, editable library catalog, building towards a web page for every book ever published.
The ManyBooks logo ManyBooks Offers over 50,000 ebooks for free.
The libby app mascot Libby A free app that lets you borrow digital books from your local library.
Android Play Store Google eBookStore Get books on Google Play. Rent and save from the world's largest eBookstore. Read, highlight, and take notes, across web, tablet, and phone
 Project Gutenberg logo  Project Gutenberg A library of over 60,000 free eBooks. Choose among free epub and Kindle eBooks, download them or read them online. You will find the world's great literature here, with focus on older works for which U.S. copyright has expired.

Apps
Android Play Store Google Play Store Enjoy millions of the latest Android apps, games, music, movies, TV, books, magazines & more. Anytime, anywhere, across your devices.
iOS App Store Apple App Store The App Store is the best place to discover and download apps you'll love on your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.
Windows Store Microsoft Store Download Windows apps for your Windows tablet or computer. Browse thousands of free and paid apps by category, read user reviews, and compare ratings.
Cnet logo CNET CNET Download provides free downloads for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android devices across all categories of software and apps.
Softpedia logo Softpedia A library of over 1000000 free and free-to-try applications for Windows, Mac, Linux and Smartphones, Games and Drivers.
 Softonic logo  Softonic Softonic is the place to discover the best applications for your device, offering you reviews, news, articles and free downloads

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A list of free pirating software

In order to avoid spoilers, watching a show or movie as soon as it's released just has to happen. But, there are multiple streaming platforms now, all with their own subscription fees and set of shows. Which one do we choose?

What's wrong with choosing free? What's wrong with browsing the web for a site that streams Game of Thrones?

There are sites that offer Game of Thrones, recent movies like Avengers Endgame, all for free. Some sites even claim to stream the Mandalorian without a Disney+ subscription. At least until the website loads and pop-up after pop-up are delivered. The movie never really loads, just the pop-ups. After the pop-ups load, it may even demand money to watch the show after all.

Similarly, getting to the local library to get the latest novel is going to be hard with coronavirus on everyone's minds. Most of them will be closed. Despite that, new books are still being released and even advertised for free on dubious sites. Just like promising free movies and music, free epub books are also on these websites.

When asking about free on the Internet, most likely the answer will be digital piracy. Piracy was beginning to die down a bit since things were more available and easier to get to online. Since streaming platforms have multiplied and split, often taking their shows with them, there are not only more options but more subscription fees. It's no longer as easy and convenient to get shows, movies, music, and books. Now, it's easier and certainly cheaper just to take it.

In order for something to be free someone had to provide it. In the case of digital piracy, they had to steal it. Sometimes they even bought it and want to provide it to others for free. The act of downloading or streaming is piracy.

Just because it says it's free, doesn't mean it actually is. It certainly isn't safe. Free things are often trojans and loaded with malware.

The Dangers of "Free"

Free is tempting. Free is a word that'll get your attention quickly. Unfortunately, free on the Internet is often a synonym for illegal or a scam. Free sites will often force pop-ups or demand that you create an account. Once you create an account they'll sell your information, or even demand money.

Free Movies Will Push Pop-Ups

Avoiding these "free" sites can help you prevent pop-ups on your Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft Edge browsers.

The pop-ups that tag along on websites offering free products tend to take over your entire system. They maximum themselves and refuse to be removed when you try to close them. Some demand a click. Some yell at you. A few will demand you call a scammer hotline because you've either broken the law or downloaded malware.

In some cases you'll need to use your computer's Task Manager to close the browser in order to get rid of the pop-up.

Free Downloads and Torrents Often Contain Malware

Free sites often piggyback malware on their downloads. If the download itself isn't infected, they'll try to trick you into clicking on the wrong thing. Free download sites often surround their download link or hide it behind links that lead you to malware or scams.
An example of a bad free streaming site with annoying pop ups

Torrents can contain more than just the movie, app, or album you wanted to download. They can also contain keyloggers. Keyloggers have the ability to steal passwords and are considered malware that can mess up your system.

Free Could be a Scam

The algorithms for searching for free content have now been changed. Scammers have taken advantage of this and load their sites with SEO to trick you into clicking on it.

If you want to download something for free, first search for that exact content. For example; if I want to watch 2015's The Wicked Within I would search for "The Wicked Within 2015". Google will often give you options at the top for legitimate ways to access that content. Unfortunately, you may have to pay a little for it.
Legal ways to watch movies and their prices

Free is Often Pirated and Illegal

In order for you to get most of this free content, someone had to steal it. For your free movies, someone had to record it from the theater. For free apps, someone had to crack it. For free music and books, someone has purchased it and made it available.

All of this is known on the Internet as pirating. When pirating first took off in the late 90s and early 2000s it focused mostly on music. Software such as Napster and Limewire were created to allow people to share files amongst themselves. So many of these files had tag-along viruses and malware.

Free content may be advertised to you on websites. It may be on a torrent site for you to download. The questionable legality was brought into the national eye when Napster and Limewire were taken to court. Then, Pirate Bay and KAT were given the same treatment. They were taken to court and the providers of those sites were arrested.

Not only do you run the risk of ruining your system, but the content publishing companies might take you to court. Now-a-days your ISP will contact you first when they catch you. Normally you get three strikes, after that they block your Internet.

Legitimate Free Services and Paid Alternatives

While paid and subscription services do cost money most of them will offer a 14 or 30 day free trial. With it you can try before you really buy and decide which service is right for you. Many subscription services come with additions as well. Amazon Prime is a yearly subscription that offers you additional sales, items, and free 2-day shipping. It also offers you music, shows, movies, and even free games.

If you're looking for free software you'll need to look for demos, free trials, or completely free apps. In order to get most apps for free you'll need to find them cracked, which is illegal. Luckily, many popular apps will have demos right on their website so there's no need to go hunting for them.

The benefit to paying for your entertainment is pretty obvious when considering the potential dangers of getting it for free. Not only does getting it for free harm the content creator, downloading free content from dubious sources puts your ability to get the internet in danger. The record labels may even try to take you to court. And that's just the monetary issues you could run into. Free downloads are, as stated above, often infected with malware.

Paying for it or using a legitimate free service to get your entertainment may take a bit more time and cost but at least it's safe.

Movies
Amazon Prime logo Amazon Prime A paid service that offers several shows and movies as well as Amazon originals.
Netflix Netflix A subscription service that lets you watch and stream movies and shows.
Hulu logo
Hulu Hulu is like Netflix in that it has both movies and shows for a subscription.
TubiTV logo TubiTV Offers free movies and television shows on a rotating schedule.
YouTube Logo YouTube Gives you access to many free movies and content creators making entertainment.
The Crackle logo Crackle Lets you watch Hollywood movies for free-uncut and unedited.

Music
Spotify. Spotify Search for any track, artist or album and listen for free. Make and share playlists. Get inspired with personal recommendations, and readymade playlists for just about everything. Listen absolutely free with ads, or get Spotify Premium.
Pandora. Pandora A personalized music experience that continually evolves with your tastes. Create stations from your favorite songs, artists or genres. Or search browse to find recommended stations for your mood or activity.
Google Play music. Google Play Music Millions of songs and thousands of playlists for any situation. Powered by Google, serves up music based on where you are and why you’re listening, gets smarter and more assistive as it get to know your tastes. Subscribe to create playlists, listen offline, and get ad-free YouTube with YouTube Red (where available).
iTunes.  iTunes Visit the iTunes Store on iOS to buy and download your favorite songs, TV shows, movies, and podcasts.
Soundcloud logo Soundcloud Explore the largest community of artists, bands, podcasters and creators of music & audio.
Apple Music logo Apple Music Stream 60 million songs ad-free, follow along and tap ahead as you listen with lyrics view, or download your favorite tracks and play them offline.
Amazon Music logo Amazon Music Listen to your favorite songs online from your web browser. Stream music now using the web player.

Books
The OpenLibrary Logo OpenLibrary An open, editable library catalog, building towards a web page for every book ever published.
The ManyBooks logo ManyBooks Offers over 50,000 ebooks for free.
The libby app mascot Libby A free app that lets you borrow digital books from your local library.
Android Play Store Google eBookStore Get books on Google Play. Rent and save from the world's largest eBookstore. Read, highlight, and take notes, across web, tablet, and phone
 Project Gutenberg logo  Project Gutenberg A library of over 60,000 free eBooks. Choose among free epub and Kindle eBooks, download them or read them online. You will find the world's great literature here, with focus on older works for which U.S. copyright has expired.

Apps
Android Play Store Google Play Store Enjoy millions of the latest Android apps, games, music, movies, TV, books, magazines & more. Anytime, anywhere, across your devices.
iOS App Store Apple App Store The App Store is the best place to discover and download apps you'll love on your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.
Windows Store Microsoft Store Download Windows apps for your Windows tablet or computer. Browse thousands of free and paid apps by category, read user reviews, and compare ratings.
Cnet logo CNET CNET Download provides free downloads for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android devices across all categories of software and apps.
Softpedia logo Softpedia A library of over 1000000 free and free-to-try applications for Windows, Mac, Linux and Smartphones, Games and Drivers.
 Softonic logo  Softonic Softonic is the place to discover the best applications for your device, offering you reviews, news, articles and free downloads