How can I stream or torrent movies in Germany?

How can I stream or torrent movies in Germany?

Piracy is not so easy in Germany, but there are ways to torrent without punishment. Here is how Germans pirate without getting caught.

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This guide is written information purposes only. All About Berlin does not condone piracy, and strongly encourages its readers to support the artists who create the media they consume.

Downloading movies in Germany is a risky business. Unlike in other countries, piracy here exposes you to hefty fines: 900 to 1000 euros on average! Even sharing your Wi-Fi password can attract unpleasant letters from copyright lawyers. However, if you take the right precautions, you can pirate to your heart's content in relative safety.

How is piracy prosecuted in Germany?

Large lawyer firms are contracted by movie studios to monitor torrent swarms for various movie studios. If they see your IP address, they can request your street address from your ISP and issue you an Abmahnung, a formal request summoning you to pay them between 500 and 1500 euros.

You can hire a lawyer that will get your fee reduced to 100-300 euros, but in any case, getting caught will cost you.

In general, those law firms go for the low-hanging fruits, and will not take extraordinary measures to catch the average movie pirate. This is why you won't get prosecuted for streaming movies, for example.

What if my guests pirate movies?

Before October 2017, you were held liable if anyone pirated copyrighted material on your internet connection. This is why there used to be so few public hotspots in Germany. The so called Mitstörerhaftung (co-perpetrator-liability) was recently declared to be in violation of the European Union laws, and it was repealed1,2

The updated law is fairly simple: you are no longer responsible for copyright violations on your network if you did not cause or facilitate them1.

Is streaming movies safe in Germany?

If you stream movies from legal sources such as Netflix, iTunes, Google Play Movies and Amazon Prime Video, you are following the law and have nothing to worry about.

If you stream movies from websites like Putlocker, you are breaking the law, but it's still fairly safe. These piracy cases do not get prosecuted.

Movie studios and copyright lawyers cannot see who is streaming from those websites without tapping your internet connection or getting the server logs from the website owners. Prosecuting movie streamers simply isn't worth it when there are much easier targets to harass.

The only exception is Popcorn Time, as it uses BitTorrent to stream the movies. Using Popcorn Time in Germany is as risky as torrenting.

Is torrenting safe in Germany?

The BitTorrent protocol splits a file into smaller chunks. When you torrent a movie, you download these chunks in no particular order until you have the whole file on your computer. Once you have downloaded a chunk, you also share it with other downloaders. This means that when you torrent a movie, you also upload copyrighted material.

More importantly, when you use public torrent trackers, your IP address is visible to everyone, including the copyright lawyers. They see you share copyrighted content. This is why torrenting is a surefire way to get caught.

Unless you take precautions.

If you add someone else between you and the torrent, their IP address will show among the uploaders instead of yours. Copyright lawyers won't be able to trace the downloads back to you. This is the basic principle behind VPNs and seedboxes.

Private torrent trackers can also increase your privacy, but your IP address is still visible to those who have access to the private tracker. You can still be caught by particularly dedicated copyright lawyers.

Torrenting movies with a VPN

When you browse the internet or torrent movies through a VPN, the remote server sees the VPN's IP address, not yours. This means that copyright lawyers cannot see your IP address, and cannot easily trace illegal downloads back to you. Using a VPN makes torrenting much safer.

VPNs come with extra benefits:

  • They let you see shows and videos that are only available in other countries
  • They let you see websites that are blocked in your country
  • They increase your online privacy by adding a layer of anonymity

However, VPNs are not risk-free. If your VPN connection drops, your torrent client might continue downloading copyrighted materials without it, exposing your IP address to the world. This is why you should set up a VPN killswitch that cuts the internet connection if you are not connected to your VPN.

When choosing a VPN, you must look for a fast provider that allows torrenting and does not log IP addresses. Avoid free VPN services, as they usually sacrifice safety, privacy or performance. Private Internet Access is a solid choice for a fast, safe and affordable VPN that supports torrenting. This VPN comparison chart can help you pick the right VPN.

Torrenting movies with a seedbox

A seedbox is a torrent client that runs on a remote server. You add torrents through a web interface, and once the download is finished, you save the files to your computer. Torrent trackers only see the seedbox's IP address, so copyright lawyers cannot trace the downloads back to you.

There are a few benefits to seedboxes over VPNs:

  • Seedboxes are mind-boggingly fastTypical bandwidths range from 100mbps to 10Gbps. Well-seeded torrents finish in an instant.
  • You don't need to install or configure anything on your computer. You can access your finished torrents from all your devices.
  • Many seedbox services include a free VPN.

However, seedboxes often require you to use private torrent trackers, which have stricter membership requirements. Private trackers are usually invite-only, and require its users to maintain a high seeding ratio.

Disclaimer

This article was not written to promote sharing copyrighted material without permission, but to inform its readers about the current laws and the methods used by German pirates. All About Berlin does not condone piracy. Be safe and responsible.

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