Free movie websites offer hidden problems

Free movie websites offer hidden problems
By Oregon Better Business Bureau

It might be tempting to download “free” movies and music on computers; but with virus risks and copyright infringements flourishing on the Internet, Better Business Bureau reminds it’s not always safe. “Illegally pirated entertainment puts consumers and their computers at risk,” said Robert W.G. Andrew, CEO of BBB serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington. “Free downloads today could turn into expensive mistakes tomorrow.”

According to research from the cloud security provider Zscaler, movie download websites like,, and appear harmless; however, those who download pirated movies on their computers are committing copyright infringement.

Copyright Infringement: As part of the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act, the Artists’ Rights and Theft Prevention Act makes it illegal to pirate copyright-protected entertainment. According to the United States Copyright Office, an individual who uploads or downloads online movies or music without the permission or authority of the copyright owner can be charged with copyright infringement violations and fined for statutory damages. The U.S. Department of Justice can also criminally prosecute copyright infringers, with fines up to $250,000 and possible imprisonment.

Dangerous Downloads: Blurry or distorted visuals, incomplete recordings, and poor quality sound are all warning signs of pirated entertainment. Dodge dangerous downloads with the following advice:

Only purchase copyrighted works online from official or authorized music and movie media sources; check with the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).

Look for copyright permission statements. If music or movie files are legal, there should be proof of permission from the artists or company representing the artists. Be wary of free downloads for popular, pre-released media.

Setup a secure firewall, anti-virus and anti-spyware software on computers. Illegal digital files may put consumers at risk of downloading malicious viruses or malware.

Visit, and for more resources.

About your BBB serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington:
Your Better Business Bureau is a not-for-profit organization funded by Better Business Bureau Accredited Businesses. The BBB’s mission is to be the leader in advancing marketplace trust. For more information about the services and products provided by your BBB, call 206-431-2222 or 253-830-2924 in Washington, 503-212-3022 in Oregon, 907-562-0704 in Alaska, or visit our Web site at

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