If you’re like us, you’ve used Putlocker to watch movies and TV shows online, but there are still some risks you need to be aware of. Today, we’ll discuss the legality of streaming with Putlocker, plus show you how to ensure your safety using the service by installing and using a VPN on your favorite device.
Putlocker is a website which connects users to online media streams allowing them to watch a range of Movies and TV shows. Today we’re answering one important question if Putlocker is legal or not, because you need to be informed and not put yourself in hot legal waters. Read on and find out the best VPNs for Putlocker, too.
Whilst the matter is open for discussion, many countries consider sites like Putlocker to be in breach of copyright law and users can therefore face repercussions. For that reason, users are advised to take steps to protect their online privacy and hide their identity when using the site.
As the site links to external streams there is a chance of users falling victim to viruses, malware, and other security threats from those links. Users should therefore also take sensible online security steps when using the site.
The most important and effective online privacy and security tool we would recommend all readers to employ when using Putlocker is a VPN, which can hide your online identity and protect you from security threats by encrypting your online data.
What is Putlocker?
Putlocker is a website which holds an online index of hosted media files including television shows, movies, and music. The site itself does not host any of the content that users can stream, but it rather enables users to find and access files which are hosted elsewhere.
Putlocker began in the UK as putlocker.com and its popularity grew quickly. In early 2012, it was averaging about 800,000 visitors a day, but this doubled after Megaupload, a similar site, was shut down. This was due to alleged copyright infringement, although the shutdown was entirely voluntary.
However, the growth in users, which had peaked in 2016, with putlocker being ranked as one of the 250 most-viewed sites on the internet, and top 150 in the USA, also led to putlocker receiving similar unwanted attention.
Various attempts have been made to get putlocker shut down or blocked over the years, which has seen the sites URL changing several times.
They first moved to putlocker.bz, but this site was seized by the UK’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit in June 2014. The site then moved onto an Icelandic domain as putlocker.is. However, since October 2016, this URL has just displayed an error message. This happened around the time that the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), a trade body which represents the major Hollywood studios, reported the site to the Office of the United States Trade Representative.
Putlocker.is then began working again, forwarding users to putlocker.ch, but this site was also swiftly seized after a ruling by a Tribunal d’arrondissement of Luxembourg in a case brought by the Belgian Entertainment Association.
This led to putlocker.is beginning to work again, but this soon began forwarding users to a scamming site. The latest URLs which are reported to work at the time of writing are believed to be putlocker.rs, which is located in Serbia and putlockerhd.is, which is again located in Iceland.
Why is Putlocker Useful?
The way in which people digest media has changed beyond all recognition even in the last five years. The days of pouring over the TV listings to find out when the shows you want to watch are on and dashing down to Blockbuster on a Friday night to rent your favourite movie are now firmly in the past.
Today, we get pretty much all of our media online. A quick glance at the music charts shows that almost every entry on the list is dominated by streams. More and more TV shows are being released whole series at a time online. Indeed, online streaming services are even commissioning their own shows these days.
It seems like the new streaming sites offer the perfect solution for everyone. There is just one problem and that is the price. Almost all of these streaming sites charge a subscription fee for access to their content. And for many people that is too much.
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For other users, who perhaps only want to watch things occasionally, or are just obsessive about one or two shows, it seems like rather a rip off to have to shell out the full subscription fee when you only want to access one or two shows.
Then there are the geographic restrictions that are put on these services, which means if you are a subscriber in one country, you cannot access any content as soon as you cross the border into another country.
The world is getting smaller and smaller and more people are travelling for work, or traveling abroad on holiday than ever before. And these people want to be able to access their media content while they are there rather than rely on the limited hotel TV offerings.
It is this demand which has seen the rise of free, globally available sites which also stream all the popular media you can access on these subscription sites. And one of the most well-known of these is called Putlocker.
Is Putlocker illegal?
At first glance, this looks to be a simple yes or no question. And if you have read any of the above, you will probably hazard a guess that the answer is no. But actually, it is a far more complicated question to answer than that.
Many countries, such as the USA, UK, and the EU, and therefore ISPs within those countries, do consider Putlocker to be a site which is in breach of copyright law. It is not unusual for ISPs to send out copyright infringement notices to users who have watched movies and TV shows on Putlocker. However, I have never heard of any stronger legal action being taken.
This is probably because of the way in which users watch media on Putlocker. If you are taking in a movie via Putlocker, you are streaming content which is hosted elsewhere rather than downloading content onto your device. And in the eyes of the law in the USA, Europe, and many other countries, this is a crucial difference.
This is because the US Copyright Office has been clear in their guidance that if a reproduction cannot be copied, perceived or communicated, then no legal violation has occurred. The laws in the EU have a similar definition, although current cases involving the Kodi media player and its add-ons have muddied the water there a little.
But most legal experts would say that under the current law in the USA and the EU, streaming content cannot leave the person watching it in breach of the law. The person who uploaded the file is the one responsible for it and therefore in breach of copyright law. The question of whether the site itself is in breach of the law is also debatable, but many courts have ruled against Putlocker on this point.
Having said that, it is important to inject a word of caution at this juncture. Because streaming content is not as simple as just watching it on a website. In some cases, online streaming can create a temporary file on the user’s computer.
These temporary files are contentious and another area where the law in the USA and the EU are yet to reach a consensus. Some courts have ruled that these files constitute a download and therefore leaves a user in breach of copyright laws. Others have disagreed.
All of which means there is no definitive answer to this question. Whether Putlocker is legal or illegal depends very much on where you are in the world and what you are doing on the site.
If you are streaming content and can be sure that files are not being stored on your device, you are most likely not breaking the law. But if you are downloading, uploading, or sharing content from the site, most courts of law will probably conclude that you are.
Is Putlocker safe?
Again, this is a question which requires a more thorough answer than simply yes or no.
The view of people who regularly use Putlocker is that it is. One feedback site found that 79% of regular users found the site to be trustworthy while 73% also felt it was a site safe for children to use. To some people, these might not seem to be particularly high results, but for a site which links to such a broad range of content, it is actually pretty good and certainly beats many of their closest competitors.
But that doesn’t mean that users should rest on their laurels because sites like Putlocker can on occasion present a number of security issues that users should at least be aware of.
Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, it is important to talk about Malware. Putlocker itself does not host the content that users are watching and therefore cannot be 100% certain about the safety of the files being watched.
As we noted above, even if you are just streaming a film, it is possible that it may download temporary files onto your device and it is therefore also possible that malware and other malicious content could be transmitted as well.
Users are advised to look at content feedback on the page and take all the usual steps to protect themselves from such threats, as we shall discuss in a little more detail below.
As Putlocker has been forced to change URLs fairly frequently, there are a number of different addresses that users will find purporting to be Putlocker.
Some of these will be old addresses that no longer work, but others may be fake addresses which have been set up by hackers to try and lure Putlocker users and then trick them into downloading malware and other malicious software. Many of these sites are identical to the real thing, and some will even stream content in the same way, but its whats going on behind the scenes which is the real threat.
Users should always seek to use the latest official Putlocker URL (see above) and if that stops functioning in the future, do their research carefully before opting for another URL. Putlocker will move to another site, but many other fake ones may also spring up at the same time.
One common complaint about Putlocker is the number of pop-up adverts that the site generates. This is how the operators of the site make money from it, but they are at best annoying and at worst dangerous.
There have been prior reports of Putlocker pop-ups leading to dodgy sites, adult sites, and sites which are not safe. The best way to counter this is to have a pop-up blocker enabled as well as the usual security software.
As well as pop-ups, there have also been reports of Putlocker links redirecting users to external sites. Again, some of these sites have contained inappropriate content or been potentially dangerous to users.
As with pop-ups, the usual security software should stop these sites from opening, but it is none the less important for users to be careful.
Some users have also reported that Putlocker has either tried to persuade or at times even forced, users to utilize their downloader tool unnecessarily.
As we have noted above, downloading any content from Putlocker is not advised as it is quite likely to constitute an illegal act. But just as importantly, the likelihood is that you are going to downloading more than just the media files you want to watch.
The usual security software should stop any malicious content from downloading and activating, but our advice would be for all Putlocker users to refrain from downloading any content from the site.
But for all that, our advice would be that when used cautiously, and with the correct security software in place, Putlocker can be an excellent site to use and should be safe.
Security Tools to use with Putlocker
When it comes to ensuring your privacy and anonymity when using Putlocker, there is one tool which is head and shoulders above the rest and which all Putlocker users should be running. I will come to that in a moment.
Firstly, there are a number of tools which should be employed purely and simply for security purposes and to address the potential safety issues we have discussed above. They are:
A piece of professional anti-virus software is a must for all internet users these days, but especially those who make use of sites like Putlocker. Because there is the possibility of Malware and other malicious software being downloaded from the site, it is vital to have a tool which can identify such files and stop them executing on your device and damaging your hardware or data.
We would usually suggest you go for one of the bigger market names as they have more comprehensive databases of blacklisted content. But whichever provider you go, it is vital you ensure the databases are always kept up-to-date. Make sure updates are downloading automatically to ensure you always have the best protection possible.
The biggest reported problem with Putlocker has been around unwanted adverts, so having a good ad-blocker running on the site should keep these to a minimum.
There have been reports that the site tries to get users to disable their ad-blocker at times. This shouldn’t happen, but if it does users should be very wary of doing so and look for an alternative route to the content they want to view.
Many users have moaned about the pop-up adverts on Putlocker, so an effective pop-up blocker can be used to stop this irritating issue from affecting your enjoyment of the site.
With those three tools in place, using Putlocker should be a safer and less irritating experience. But these are another tool which should be essential for all Putlocker users.
Use Putlocker Safely with a VPN
As you have seen, there are potential security and legal implications of using Putlocker. But with a VPN running, both of these risks can effectively be mitigated.
A VPN or Virtual Private Network works by redirecting all the user’s internet traffic down an encrypted pathway and through an external server. This protects them in two ways.
By ensuring all of your online data is encrypted, users can be confident that hackers and other prying eyes are not going to be able to access it. Everything you do online in encoded and therefore meaningless to anyone who does intercept it. It is a crucial security measure and increasingly becoming standard practice for all internet users.
Passing the data through another server is also important because it hides the information about where the data has come from. If you connect to a site directly, that site can see the IP address of your internet connection. This means that it can tell exactly where you are and anything you do online can be tracked back to you. This is important if there are potential legal repercussions as is sometimes the case with Putlocker.
But if your data passes through another server it assumes the IP address of that server. This makes it all but impossible for sites to trace your internet activity back to you. They can see it came from the VPN server, but where it came from before then is hidden.
Similarly, your ISP can see that you are connected to the VPN server, but not where your data goes after that. This means that VPN users are effectively anonymous online, which is a distinct bonus when using Putlocker.
ExpressVPN – Fast, Secure Putlocker Connections
There are a lot of VPN providers on the market and many of them offer an excellent service. But there is one provider which is, for my money, head and shoulders above the rest. And that is ExpressVPN.
ExpressVPN is one of the most long-standing, best known and highly regarded VPN providers on the market today. And this is not just a coincidence because they offer perhaps the best service around, especially for users who like to stream or downloaded media content from sites like Putlocker.
As far as security and privacy are concerned, there isn’t a single VPN provider around who can beat them. Their entire network is SSL secured with 256-bit encryption, which is as good as it gets. And as far as privacy is concerned, their location in the British Virgin Islands means that they can offer a guaranteed no logs policy that users can trust.
Connection speeds are vital if you want to stream online media and some VPNs can slow connections to the point where video content becomes unwatchable. Not so ExpressVPN. Their connection speeds are as fast and consistent as they come and impressively, this seems to be the case no matter which of their servers you choose to connect to. They have a huge network spanning 3,000+ servers in 94 countries worldwide, which is a factor in their service being available to users in pretty much every major country on the map.
ExpressVPN offers dedicated apps available for iOS and Android devices as well as being available across a wide range of other platforms.
No VPN can ever guarantee a 100% perfect service, but ExpressVPN is as good as. I have been making use of their service for years, streaming content from Putlocker and other sites. And in all that time, I have never encountered a single problem with the quality of my stream, with malware and other security problems, or with my privacy being compromised.
Read our full ExpressVPN review.
- Unblocks US Netflix, BBC iPlayer and other streaming services
- 94 countries, 3,000+ servers
- Very simple and easy to use
- Strict no-logs policy for personal information
- 24/7 Customer Service.
- Slightly pricier than competition.
Putlocker is a site which is not perfect, but with the right precautions, it is a brilliant site to use. And by following the tips in this article, and ensuring you are running ExpressVPN when accessing the site, you too could enjoy hours of trouble-free media content, for free, no matter where in the world you are.
If you need a VPN for a short while when traveling for example, you can get our top ranked VPN free of charge. ExpressVPN includes a 30-day money-back guarantee. You will need to pay for the subscription, that’s a fact, but it allows full access for 30 days and then you cancel for a full refund. Their no-questions-asked cancellation policy lives up to its name.