MPAA: Illegal Movie Streaming is Still Theft

Spokeswoman says its still a crime, compares it to shoplifting.

Many of us are well aware of illegal video streaming sites that allow you to watch new movie releases on-demand.

Obviously it’s illegal to upload and make content available, but what’s sort of murky is whether or not it’s illegal to simply watch it.

According to MPAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Kaltman it is, though oddly equates it with physical theft.

“Nobody who isn’t a criminal would walk into Blockbuster or Wal-Mart or Best Buy, wherever they’re selling or renting DVDs, take it off the shelf, put it under their arm and not pay for it,” she told the Chicago Sun-Times. “For a generation that has grown up with the Internet … there is a perception that because it is there, it’s available and it’s free, I can take it.”

Copyright attorney Steve Englund said while individuals whom post copyrighted material online without permission are indeed committing a crime, those watching that material may not necessarily be guilty of anything.

“It is a little more complicated question whether it is illegal to watch it when someone else has put it online,” he said.

Mickie Piatt, law professor and interim director of the Intellectual Property Law program at Chicago-Kent College of Law, said there are “some criminal penalties, but those have not been used as much.”

Perhaps it’s learned a lesson from the RIAA, that targeting consumers of your product never turns out well.

Stay tuned.

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