If you are up to downloading something via some pirate way or trying to stream copyrighted content in Germany, Stop, and think twice! While it may be technically possible and ok for you to do so, using piracy to stream and watch stuff in Germany can land you in trouble and a heavy fine.
Even though illegal torrenting and streaming sites are available and accessible in Germany, your Internet Service Provider will know if you visit them. Workarounds like using a VPN can also go only so far. The fines, if you are caught doing online piracy, can reach up to €1000! So it is best to play safe than sorry.
If you really want to stream content and watch international stuff, then get streaming services that are not illegal to use, like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney, and HBO Max in Germany.
So let’s together see Germany’s legal policy on piracy and the outline of consequences in the case of getting caught. We will also explore the legal and right options for video streaming that are safe.
Is streaming legal in Germany?
In Germany, licensed, premium streaming services such as Amazon Prime and Netflix are accessible. These are completely legal, and there is absolutely no risk involved in using them (other than the likelihood of binge-watching all of Squid Game and Stranger Things back-to-back).
However, using unauthorized sites such as Putlocker or Pirate Bay for streaming or downloading is deemed copyright and hence prohibited. However, the dangers differ depending on how you tackle them, and there are numerous common solutions.
Until 2017, you would’ve been held criminally liable if someone connected to (or hacked into) your wifi connection and pirated some content utilizing your IP address. Fortunately, this is not the case now, owing to a reform in the legislation in 2017.
That being said, we can still assume that confirming who exactly breached the laws on your online connection and at what point is a hassle you’d rather avoid.
Streaming-related laws in Germany – what you should know
How do they detect my identity?
As previously stated, your IP address is exposed every time you download any file from the internet. Copyright owners, including those who distribute or sell films, music, or TV shows, engage law teams to track torrents and gather the IP addresses of individuals who downloaded their copyrighted material.
Via your IP address, these legal firms can then obtain your name and location from your ISP.
What are the penalties for torrenting or online streaming in Germany?
Once a legal company has your location, they can send you a formal demand for payment of a fine. Fines often go from 500€ – 1500€. Not what you want to discover in your mailbox! If you do not wish to pay a hefty fine, you can appoint a lawyer to fight it. In the best-case situation, this might lower your payment to roughly 300€.
However, you must also compensate your lawyer. But lawyers are incredibly costly in Germany, with regular hourly rates starting at €190! In practice, it is far better to avoid getting caught from the start by adhering to safer solutions.
How to do streaming in Germany safely?
Be cautious about the “safe” streaming websites
As previously said, video streaming is believed to be better than torrenting because no data is ever downloaded.
This implies you won’t be able to disseminate the content to anybody else, and hence there will be less basis for a lawsuit. Not every streaming site, though, is secure! Be wary of websites such as Popcorn time. These appear to be streaming websites, but they are BitTorrent clients.
While you are watching a movie on these websites, it is being downloaded to the browser cache and shared with others as a torrent, which is considerably more dangerous in regards to visibility and clearer reasons for a heavy fine if caught.
As previously said, VPNs enable you to access the internet privately by masking your IP address. In Germany, the use of VPN is totally legal. While it is undeniable that utilizing a VPN makes it very hard for outside authorities to trace your internet activities, it doesn’t make illegal activities legitimate.
VPNs might have issues or just cease operating at times. If your VPN connection crashes while you’re in the middle of a download, you might end up being caught for downloading pirated content.
So, although a service like ExpressVPN is the least dangerous because it does not disclose your data to anyone, it does not provide a certainty that you cannot be detected. Nothing is ever 100% foolproof.
Can you stream safely for free?
No. While certain illegal methods are less unsafe than others, it is far less frustrating – and far safer – to just stream video online through legal platforms.
Legal ways to stream in Germany
Legal streaming platforms like Hulu or Netflix are reasonably priced. All the more so when contrasted to a fine of 1500€! But, If you visit these sites from Germany, you may be dissatisfied.
The German editions of websites like Netflix sometimes lack common features, making them unsuitable for non-German users. This is certainly relevant on Amazon Video, where English-language TV episodes are only accessible in German dubs. But there’s a solution.
How to utilize a VPN app with official video streaming websites
You can ‘fool’ websites into believing that you’re in another country by using a VPN. This significantly expands your legal streaming possibilities in Germany.
You can, for example, sign up for Amazon Prime US, which offers a considerably diverse range of locally produced US content. You might also visit BBC iPlayer from any location in the world. Well, you know. Run amok.
Another option can be like you can opt for a streaming service but use a VPN and pay for its service if HBO Max is not available in Germany, you can get the US HBO Max by connecting to a VPN app and providing the data and information needed for the sign-up and then streaming the platform with a VPN always.
Well, try out these options with Netflix or whatever service you like. The sky’s the limit.