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You are here: MacNN Forums > Community > MacNN Lounge > Is it illegal to download a show that's available on netflix?

Is it illegal to download a show that's available on netflix?
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knifecarrier2
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Nov 4, 2012, 05:57 PM
 
Like.. I have a netflix subscription, but I wanted to watch some of the shows where i don't have internet... so... ???
     
Uncle Skeleton
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Nov 4, 2012, 06:44 PM
 
If not for piracy, you would have paid netflix double so you could order the disk version. Or you would have paid 4x to buy the content on disk. So yes, duh.
     
Wiskedjak
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Nov 4, 2012, 07:07 PM
 
If you're downloading it in a way that you aren't also uploading it at the same time, there's an argument to be made justifying the download (though, few will are). But, most forms of downloading shows also require uploading, and its the uploading/distribution that will is most certainly get you in trouble, regardless of whether or not you've paid to watch the content.

Actually, scratch that. What you're paying Netflix for is streaming licensing, not downloaded licensing. Downloading would cost more.
     
FireWire
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Nov 4, 2012, 09:43 PM
 
wouldn't recording what you could watch now for watching later amounts to time shifting, which is legal since the labels vs sony lawsuit?
     
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Nov 4, 2012, 11:19 PM
 
I fully expect that it isn't legal no matter how you cut it, but at a certain point I think that legality does, and should, get thrown out the window.

For example: I pay good money for a full HD cable package and have a PVR. I pay good money for a fast internet connection. If I PVR a show, and something messes up (just happened last night with The Walking Dead...the PVR only recorded one second of black space for some reason), I feel perfectly justified downloading a copy online. It's not like I'm taking money out of anyone's pocket - I've already paid as much as is possible for me to pay.

In the case of Netflix, I would argue something similar: you've already paid for the service. Considering that this is how they advertise themselves:

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...I don't see any issue, personally, with you doing what you have to do to keep yourself entertained "anytime, anywhere".
     
subego
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Nov 5, 2012, 01:00 AM
 
It's not merely illegal, it's most sincerely illegal.
     
knifecarrier2  (op)
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Nov 5, 2012, 06:02 AM
 
Yeah it's like a grey area, IMHO. I mean, the show is on Netflix. But I was going to a place without a connection. So I downloaded the season to watch the last 4 episodes instead of staying at the place with the connection.

>shrug<
     
Wiskedjak
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Nov 5, 2012, 07:16 AM
 
There's nothing grey about it. That's most likely illegal, depending on the source of your download. Whether or not it SHOULD be illegal is a conversation that hasn't happened yet.
     
Uncle Skeleton
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Nov 5, 2012, 08:08 AM
 
That's like saying that running a red light is a grey area if it's the middle of the night and there are no other cars around. No, it's not a grey area. You can go ahead and do it, but just make sure you don't get caught, because if you do get caught, the grey area will vanish.
     
ort888
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Nov 5, 2012, 08:36 AM
 
Yeah, it's 100% illegal. There is no grey area here.

Whether or not it's a law you have a problem breaking or not is up to you.

My sig is 1 pixel too big.
     
andi*pandi
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Nov 5, 2012, 10:14 AM
 
It's not netflix's issue so much as the original content provider, who won't care.

That said, I have cable, and if my dvr misses an ep, I have little compunction about downloading it vs waiting for reruns. I did pay to see it, I just didn't get to see it, so I don't feel the need to buy it again from itunes or whereever. Sometimes I wait for reruns though, or buy the dvd if it's an older show I can imagine rewatching.
     
Wiskedjak
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Nov 5, 2012, 10:29 AM
 
Originally Posted by andi*pandi View Post
It's not netflix's issue so much as the original content provider, who won't care.
That said, I have cable, and if my dvr misses an ep, I have little compunction about downloading it vs waiting for reruns. I did pay to see it, I just didn't get to see it, so I don't feel the need to buy it again from itunes or whereever. Sometimes I wait for reruns though, or buy the dvd if it's an older show I can imagine rewatching.
This one is even less grey. Through cable, you've only really paid for access to the networks (ie, the cable). Advertising pays for the actual content. By downloading, you're likely getting a copy of the content that has had the advertising removed. And, even if it isn't removed, it's most likely for a region different from your own. Rather than download, you're better off watching the show from the network's website or app.

Again, I agree that this SHOULD be legal, but it currently is not.
     
knifecarrier2  (op)
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Nov 5, 2012, 10:38 AM
 
Huh. Oh well. I will say I've pirated about 95% less since I got a netflix subscription.
     
andi*pandi
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Nov 5, 2012, 12:43 PM
 
Originally Posted by Wiskedjak View Post
This one is even less grey. Through cable, you've only really paid for access to the networks (ie, the cable). Advertising pays for the actual content. By downloading, you're likely getting a copy of the content that has had the advertising removed. And, even if it isn't removed, it's most likely for a region different from your own. Rather than download, you're better off watching the show from the network's website or app.
Again, I agree that this SHOULD be legal, but it currently is not.
I think this is why so many channels have their own eps online now, whereas 3 years ago they didn't. They have learned to compete with free downloading by making it easy to watch on their sites. I have watched a show on my computer this way. However, computer <- - - - large screen tv with surround sound, comfy couch, etc. Also, some of them have absurdly short time to leave an ep up. Say, I discover a show midseason, like it, and want to watch from the beginning. That show's official channel will be showing eps 7, 8, 9, and 10. Not the beginning. I will watch your ads if you make it easy.

Amazon prime has been very nice for me also, for catching up on shows that I might not want to buy but am curious about. Also, the library has a pretty good DVD collection.
     
FireWire
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Nov 5, 2012, 01:24 PM
 
I don't understand why would it be illegal. There was a huge trial in the 80s in which the Supreme court, no less, basically said it was ok to record something you could watch now in order to watch it later (time-shifting). That's exactly what he wants to do. And the judge never said anything about the ads or anything.
     
subego
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Nov 5, 2012, 02:24 PM
 
Over-the-air broadcasts are governed by the FCC, and have no terms of service. Netflix isn't and does.
     
Wiskedjak
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Nov 5, 2012, 05:11 PM
 
Originally Posted by andi*pandi View Post
I think this is why so many channels have their own eps online now, whereas 3 years ago they didn't. They have learned to compete with free downloading by making it easy to watch on their sites. I have watched a show on my computer this way. However, computer <- - - - large screen tv with surround sound, comfy couch, etc. Also, some of them have absurdly short time to leave an ep up. Say, I discover a show midseason, like it, and want to watch from the beginning. That show's official channel will be showing eps 7, 8, 9, and 10. Not the beginning. I will watch your ads if you make it easy.
Amazon prime has been very nice for me also, for catching up on shows that I might not want to buy but am curious about. Also, the library has a pretty good DVD collection.
Yup, that's exactly it. They also make it very difficult to watch online content on your TV. Advertising attached to online content isn't anywhere near as lucrative as advertising attached to that same content distributed through cable (i.e. they make more money off of a show when you watch it through cable as opposed to online). The short time an episode is left up is to encourage you to stay as close to the calendar delivery of the show as possible (they spend a great deal of time deciding when the best time to air a show is, and they would prefer if you would stick to their schedule).
     
Wiskedjak
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Nov 5, 2012, 05:20 PM
 
Originally Posted by FireWire View Post
There was a huge trial in the 80s in which the Supreme court, no less, basically said it was ok to record something you could watch now in order to watch it later (time-shifting). That's exactly what he wants to do. And the judge never said anything about the ads or anything.
Not true. Try to find a recorder that doesn't record the ads. There used to be VCRs that would explicitly not records the ads; however, not long after that huge trial in the 80's, it became impossible to purchase such a VCR. Even today, PVRs still record the ads. Ad skipping by PVRs is a loophole that the networks are constantly trying to get closed up.

The other much bigger problem, though, is the distribution rights. Assuming you're able to argue that you've paid for the right to download and watch that episode via your Netflix fees, you most certainly haven't paid for the right to distribute that show. This is where most of the copyright lawsuits centre; not on illegal downloading, but on how many times the user illegally *uploaded* the content. If you download an episode via Bittorrent, you are also uploading/distributing.

Again, I don't disagree that is *should* be legal, but I suspect you wouldn't want to test your theory by downloading an episode that you feel you've paid for and then calling up the Network's lawyers to let them know what you just did.
     
knifecarrier2  (op)
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Nov 6, 2012, 10:10 AM
 
Originally Posted by andi*pandi View Post
However, computer <- - - - large screen tv with surround sound, comfy couch, etc.
Hence why I have a 39" HDTV has a monitor. It's ****ing AWESOME. My couch is a few feet away too.
     
FireWire
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Nov 6, 2012, 05:02 PM
 
Oops, I got mixed up for some reason and was under the impression the the OP wanted to record the show from netflix on his HD (stockpile them) and watch them later. That would be legal, right?
     
SegNerd
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Nov 7, 2012, 08:13 AM
 
I understand that FireWire may have misunderstood the original question, but just to clarify the difference, broadcasters have the proper legal rights in place to broadcast shows. The sites you are talking about (presumably) do not. It doesn't really have anything to do with whether you have a right to record broadcast TV, because illegal downloads shouldn't have been there in the first place. Some people have tried to claim that you can't hold the downloader responsible for the actions of the provider of the illegal files, but this has not stopped people like the RIAA from suing zillions of people. If you knew they were illegal or should have known they were (which you should have), that is really a pretty weak defense anyway.

Regarding the question of whether you could record Netflix and stockpile them, that is more difficult. I am not a Netflix member, but I would strongly guess that when you sign up for Netflix, you probably click "Agree" to 400 pages of something that says somewhere that you cannot do that, and if so, then that is enforceable. Moreover, even if there is nothing from Netflix that explicitly says that, if your method of stockpiling involves bypassing any sort of copy protection, then you are violating the DMCA. So I believe that it is not automatically illegal to stockpile Netflix recordings for personal use, but it would be very easy for Netflix to make it illegal, and I would strongly guess they did so.
     
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Nov 7, 2012, 03:10 PM
 
Depends where you live and the laws of where you live. If you live in the United States of America its totally illegal. If you live in Canada its a grey area because we also pay a media tax as well. As long as your not profiting from piracy its legal status is in question and has not been challenged yet in any court. Some countries in Europe its not illegal at all, or are grey areas like Canada. I doubt Afghanistan has any law regarding it.

Ethics wise I see no problem with it at all. The spirit of the action matters.
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Missed 2012 by 3 days, RIP Grandma :-(
     
   
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