What is the best way to download free movies on the internet without resorting to piracy?
December 29, 2008 9:45 AM   Subscribe

What is the best way to download free movies on the internet without resorting to piracy?

I don't know, but I have been told that there are websites that exist where one can download free movies. Do these places actually exist? What is the best one?
posted by peetle to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
Not sure about downloading, but Hulu is fairly handy from time to time. The selection is a bit limited, but free is free.
posted by miratime at 9:51 AM on December 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


There are tools out there to capture the video from streaming sites like Youtube, but a lot of youtube content is in violation of copyright to begin with. Saving the stream to disk is probably a violation of Youtube's terms of service.

If you want to have a clear legal right to watch content, go to Amazon's video on demand, or iTunes. Hulu is driven by ad revenue, but I don't think you can download their content without violating their TOS. Everything else is a gray area.
posted by b1tr0t at 9:52 AM on December 29, 2008


It depends on what you mean by "free movies". Downloading cinematic releases for free on the internet is piracy, unless free download is expressly permitted by the copyright holder or unless the movies are in the public domain; are you looking for cinematic releases, or independent, small films that never make it to a theater or other commercial release?
posted by pdb at 9:55 AM on December 29, 2008


Fancast.com has tons of stuff. But streaming, not downloading.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 9:55 AM on December 29, 2008


What about archive.org's Moving Image Archive? It depends what movies you are looking for, of course.
posted by galaksit at 9:57 AM on December 29, 2008


What is the best way to download free movies on the internet without resorting to piracy?

There is none. Some, like Hulu, offer streaming. Netflix streams several items from their catalog for subscribers.

I don't know, but I have been told that there are websites that exist where one can download free movies. Do these places actually exist?

Yes, and they're all in violation of copyright, at least in the U.S.
posted by mkultra at 10:04 AM on December 29, 2008


mkultra is probably 98% correct, but keep in mind copyright is not in perpetuity by default. Check archive.org.
posted by mzurer at 10:14 AM on December 29, 2008


Probably not what you're looking for, but there are free movies at archive.org.
posted by DarkForest at 10:16 AM on December 29, 2008


I am assuming you are writing from the US and are asking about these issues with respect to US laws and regulations.

Netflix streams are available to some subscribers. There's a US$4.99/month option that doesn't include streaming. I think the lowest cost plan there that includes streaming of some of the catalog is around US$8 or US$9.

Anyhow while the streaming is cool and useful it is certainly not Netflix's entire catalog of movies (I assume because Netflix can't get permission to stream all of these movies), so don't get your hopes up there. Hulu, similarly, doesn't have all movies available for streaming, just some. Generally (with some notable exceptions), you'll find a lot of C-list and D-list movies available online for legitimate streaming, you'll find few B-list and A-list movies available for legitimate streaming.

You have to be careful with downloading. Downloading usually contravenes websites' Terms of Use or Acceptable Use Policies. That you can download the flash video or other means by which these streaming sites (including YouTube, Hulu, etc. - usually by using browser add-ons or dedicated download tools) doesn't mean that that use is intended by the site's owners/manager or allowed by the site's policies. It also may be contributing to your delinquency in that you may be, in doing so, violating DRM and/or the DMCA.

If it's a streaming site and it doesn't offer a legitimate (i.e. button-wise, link-wise) method for you to download the video(s) in question, then it's probably best to assume that it's not explicitly allowed and you are at the very least breaking the site policy if not an applicable US law.

It is possible that there are some private sites or smaller community sites that have different distribution/revenue deals with media companies, so you really have to do careful research yourself to determine whether the use the site's putting the media toward, or the site's policies/deals are really appropriate to the use, even if it does allow you to stream or download movies you can't find anywhere else.

Above all, though, remember that if it sounds too good to be true it usually is. Even YouTube makes revenue through views of videos (through Ads) and Hulu, which is a pretty good deal, still requires viewers to watch ads before during and after the streaming broadcast.
posted by kalessin at 10:18 AM on December 29, 2008


Cultrararevideos has digitized some rare VHS tapes from the dawn of the VCR era, which you can download as avi files. [via]
posted by sswiller at 10:56 AM on December 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


You can watch some really good free movies at The Auteurs; although you can't download them.
posted by Laura in Canada at 11:32 AM on December 29, 2008


Anything on archive.org can be presumed fine and legal to download. Aside from that, look for films that are put up with the intent of being D/Led for free. Some documentaries (e.g. Good Copy, Bad Copy) are in that category. Most fanfilms, (e.g. Hidden Frontier) are by default.

Legal Torrents is a good place to start, but there are many others.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:28 PM on December 29, 2008


> Netflix streams are available to some subscribers. There's a US$4.99/month option that doesn't include streaming.

I have the $4.99/month option, and you do get to stream movies with that package -- although it's limited to 2 hours a month, so yeah, it's a pretty terrible option if you're subscribing just to stream movies. Beyond that one minor niggle, spot-on advice from kalessin.
posted by churl at 12:28 AM on December 30, 2008


The other problem is if you use the internet outside the U.S. I am studying abroad right now, in England, and can't use services like Hulu, unfortunately. I have to resort to some sometimes in-ethical means. However, there are ways to get legit movies.

One of my favorite resources is: http://dapcentral.org/

But naturally, Google Video is surprisingly underrated, too.
posted by codybaldwin at 1:02 AM on January 2, 2009


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