Safer Streaming: Traps and Identity Thefts

Many consumers complain about scams on streaming platforms such as,, and many more. All the websites are operated by the same provider (often with different names in the imprint and sometimes no imprint at all) and all websites have the same design.  Accordingly, the problems are also similar:

Consumer A registered with one of these websites for access to movies. Shortly after, an invoice about € 200 came in, due to an alleged extension of the free trial period to an annual premium subscription. However the streaming never worked for anybody on this website. The website operator threatened Consumer A with engaging a debt collection agency or taking legal action, if the bill was not paid.

Consumer B registered on, run by a different website operator for a 5 day free trial membership to be able to stream films. The streaming did not work and Consumer B assumed that the trial had ended automatically. After 5 days an invoice arrived, demanding € 395.88 with a claim that after the trial period a paid membership for 1 year was started automatically.

Consumers are not obliged to pay in such cases! The streaming did not work because the content is not on the host site. Victims were not informed about a paid membership; in direct breach of the law. These are cases of professional fraud, and such rip-off attempts all follow the same scheme.

Criminals also send out letters or e-mails pretending to be authorities or lawyers, and demand damages and legal fees for the use of illegal streaming sites. The tricksters know that an official-sounding notice can be intimidating and may scare users into paying a fake „penalty“, especially if users feel guilty for having visited an illegal site. You are on the safe side if you haven‘t used illegal offers. Otherwise, your local ECC office can help you assess whether such a notice is legitimate.

The majority of scammers focus on ripping off inexperienced film fans with hidden subscription traps. Advertising on such platforms usually states that interested persons only need to create a free user account, and enter their personal data to start watching content immediately. The reference to a subscription is well hidden on subpages and in the small print. And this is how the trap snaps shut: When creating an account, the user’s name, e-mail address, postal address and telephone number are requested. After registration, users will receive a confirmation code on their cell phone, in order to complete the “registration” on their website. Afterwards, the providers claim that by entering the code or an automatic contract extension, you did confirm a paid film subscription and demand about 250 euros as annual fee.

While streaming, you can receive and play video/audio files immediately without saving them to your device. You can watch or listen either live or on demand, provided you are online.  If the internet connection is interrupted, the stream stops. Some illegal offers even have apps for mobile use. As with downloads, content made available without permission is illegal.

Watching content from an illegal site is not lawful use, even if viewers have usually not been held responsible for viewing such content.

Some internet platforms make files available to download. If the files are not or no longer protected by copyrights or if the right holder permitted sharing, the public offer of the files is legal.

In reality, however, most of the content found on sharing platforms is protected by copyright and

distribution without permission of rights holders is a violation of copyrights. Uploading or sharing protected content without permission is considered illegal. Copyright owners can file notices for the platform to take down infringing content and uploaders can be held legally responsible.