Recently we decided to part ways with our cable company. After years of loyalty, we cut the cord. Our decision to break free from cable wasn’t 100% about saving money.
It was the fact that most of the shows we watch are actually online… for free.
A quick google search for online streaming services led me to a site called Project Free TV. At first, I was confused by the site. With a name like Project Free TV, I was expecting a spam-riddled dumpster fire of a page.
That’s not at all what I found…The page layout is clean and initially lacks a spammy (is that a word?) feel. They aren’t asking for my credit card information or even my email… Odd, right?
How can you possibly stream up-to-date popular movies and TV shows (HBO included) for free without at least giving up your email information?!
My assumption is based on how the page works. Project Free TV isn’t hosting any of the videos on its site. It’s simply a search engine for 3rd party videos. It appears they’re rather savvy when it comes to navigating legal loopholes.
This will be important as we discuss the site. Let’s get to it.
What Is Project Free TV
Project Free TV describes itself as an online video search engine that embeds videos from all over the internet, gaining the links through what they call a “complex system of automatic indexers, robotic scripts and non-affiliated 3rd party user submissions.”
Sounds fancy, right?
In an attempt to find the site owners, I did a quick ICANN WHOIS search. I wasn’t surprised to find that all of the site ownership information has been “Redacted for privacy”. One can assume this is for legal reasons.
The site isn’t exactly new and the oldest URL dates back to 2008 according to Small SEO Tools Domain Age Checker:
Project Free TV, by an incredibly simple definition, is a search engine for potentially illegal videos. Whoa… whoa… whoa. Illegal?
Sure, the videos are probably uploaded by non-affiliated 3rd party users despite pretty obvious copyright infringement laws.
Project Free TV isn’t denying this illegal activity may occur, but it’s not their fault (wink wink).
After all, they’re an online video search engine and not an online video hosting platform. They claim to not know whether any of the content it embeds is illegal and states that issues of legality lie solely between copyright holders and the websites uploading the content.
It appears that the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is harsher on sites that actually host unlicensed content than on the search engine type websites, and that’s an important distinction.
They claim to not regularly monitor the content on their site, but they do offer a DMCA tab on their menu and state “We are in compliance with 17 U.S.C. $ 512 and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). It is our policy to respond to any infringement notices and take appropriate actions under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act C’DMCA”) and other applicable intellectual property laws.
They clearly state how to submit a complaint and detail their timeline for a response.
Although, something I did find hilarious… their “contact us” section is totally blank… I’m not sure if this is simply an error on their side or a way to snub their nose at anyone trying to send them hate mail. (shrug)
Either way, it made me giggle.
Can You Legally Watch Project Free TV
Ok… Listen. I’m a Registered Nurse. I’m in no-way-shape-or-form a lawyer. With that being said… is Project Free TV safe? Let’s see what the inter-webs has to say!
Project Free TV appears to be an incredibly popular way to stream what could be illegal content online… for free in the US. The website has been banned in the UK and Norway.
Project Free TV UK… sorry chaps (that’s British, right?). Not happening.
If you live in the good ol’ USA, you have access to this online streaming service. But, will it place your computer and wallet at risk?
Will your efforts to save money by cutting cable, end up costing you more in the long run?
The answer is…. a very confusing, maybe.
According to Eirik Somerville, a Product Manager – Cybersecurity for online theft & fraud, “If by ‘view’ you meant to say stream pirated movies online then ‘viewing pirated movies online’ is illegal. If you meant that someone downloaded the pirated movie and or streamed the pirated movie and you merely viewed it, that would also be illegal.”
I found that a common argument against this is that “streaming a video” is different than downloading it, and you can view illegal videos legally in private.
I’m not going to lie… That statement sounds absolutely ridiculous to me, but again… I’m not a lawyer.
Eirik does go on to address the difference between downloading and streaming.
He states, “As you watch a pirate movie stream your computer is actually downloading segments of the full video file every second. “
As your computer receives these video file segments from the pirate’s video hosting server, it compiles them in order so you can watch the video.
This process of simultaneously downloading new segments of the video while compiling the successfully downloaded segments to watch is called streaming.”
Wait… What about Youtube?
As I research Project Free TV more and more, I kept getting confused by the question “is Project Free TV safe”?
I kept thinking about Youtube. What if someone uploads pirated videos to YouTube? Are the viewers liable for watching it? How do they know it’s illegal?
According to Daag Alemayehu, a lawyer from the Washington University in St. Louis, “If someone illegally uploads a movie to YouTube, the uploader is liable for copyright infringement. The YouTube users who view that movie, however, are not.
That said, if you invite a bunch of your friends over to your house to watch the pirated movie on YouTube, now you too are guilty of copyright infringement as you are distributing a copyrighted work without permission from the original copyright holder.
Outside of that limited scenario (and other similar scenarios where you become more than just a passive viewer), it is not actually illegal to merely watch pirated movies on YouTube.”
Clear as mud? Ok, me too. Let’s keep moving.
So, is Project Free TV Safe?
I honestly have no idea… It appears streaming illegal content in the privacy of your home is perfectly fine. If you download, distribute, or try to make money off of pirated content it becomes illegal. (shrug)
The website was taken down in both 2015 and 2017. It always makes its way back to the inter-webs, but it’s dancing on the line of copyright infringement.
If you’re interested in utilizing the site… do so at your own risk. Heck, I’m not even here to say I’ve used the site on my own! I love saving money, but I don’t want to do it at the risk of my freedom.
Ok. Let’s move past the legality of this and talk about what’s on the site.
Navigating Project Free TV
Again, for a site that is pretty much built around streaming pirated content, the set up is rather sleek and clean. The site’s menu bar offers 6 options.
The Genre menu option offers genres from action to western, and a lot in-between.
The calendar menu appears to show a calendar type view of uploaded videos. I’m honestly not sure if these videos were uploaded on this date, or popular on this date.
Project Free TV really doesn’t explain what this calendar view is… so, I’m speculating at best.
You’ll see additional menu options for TV shows and Movies.
Each drop down has the following options:
Finally, there is a search option where you can attempt to locate any specific show you’re interested in.
A quick glance at its homepage shows some really popular shows as available to stream… I didn’t try to watch any of them, but they are there to click if you’re feeling froggy.
Word of Caution
After talking with a few of my friends who do utilize this free tv streaming service, I was warned that a lot of the ads or pop-ups are adult content.
Like… ADULT content.
They stated that when you click on “play”, a pop-up almost always appears and you have no idea what’s going to be on that pop-up.
It can be a spam attempt hidden as a need to download an updated flash player, or something a little more adult in nature…
Note: Project Free TV is a safe site, but that cannot be said for the ads and pop-ups. By clicking on anything other than Project Free TV, you’re putting your computer at risk.
They also said that if a pop-up doesn’t occur, sometimes a few small images will load on the screen and they can also be of an adult nature.
Keep this in mind if you’re trying to stream the Lion King for your kids. You may end up showing them some Hakuna Oh-Ta-Tas instead.
Finally, they said if you close the ads, the videos will stream without a problem. You don’t have to sign up for anything and you shouldn’t ever click on anything in the pop-up window (as previously stated).
Simply close the pop-ups and enjoy your video.
If you’re going to explore this site for the free video content, you probably should have a pop-up blocker installed, an updated browser, and an up-to-date anti-malware program installed and ready to fight off potential malware and viruses from rogue clicks.
Can Project Free TV Save You Money
The short answer is yes. Project Free TV can absolutely save you money if you drop your cable subscription.
Cable can be incredibly expensive. The average cable bill comes in just over $100 a month, or $1,200 a year.
If you’re like my neighbor, you might be paying north of $200 a month because you like sports and pay for a lot of additional add-ons.
The math is pretty simple in this sense. Cancel cable and save around $1,200 a year. Although, I wonder if the question is actually more difficult to answer.
Cutting cable was an important move for us. We were paying for a service that we didn’t use. If we did watch TV, it was typically shows like “The Office” or “Parks and Rec”.
Although both shows are hysterical, they’re both available on Netflix and we currently receive that for free thanks to our friends at T-Mobile.
Cutting cable was more about breaking a habit, than actually being frugal. After all, if you’re not utilizing something, you’re not being frugal by cutting ties. You were being wasteful while paying for it.
Is Saving Money Worth the Risk
We Don’t Support Piracy: We don’t support or endorse piracy. This information is purely educational. We recommend that you pay for a streaming service that has legal access to the movies you want to watch. There are a bunch of affordable options like Netflix and Hulu.
Personally, I say no. With the abundance of cheap and legal streaming services available, why risk being sued over watching Game of Thrones?
Streaming services like:
- Amazon Prime Video
- CBS Sports App
- ESPN Plus
- Sling TV
And many others exist and are complete legal. Sure, they aren’t all “free”, but they aren’t expensive either.
After all, even at $25 a month… it’s cheaper than being sued.
I’m about as cheap, or “frugal” as they come. I’m continually looking for ways to cut down on our monthly expenses or plug our money leaks. There are plenty of legal ways to save money and we explore as many as we can find.
As an “intelligent” Twitter troll stated “You’ll be the richest man at the cemetery, Congrats!”
Obviously, we aren’t living a life of deprivation, we’re simply… frugal.
With that being said, I don’t want to save money at the expense of someone, even if that someone is a rich actor or production company.
They’ve worked to create the content and if they wanted to offer it for free, they would. Project Free TV feels a lot like theft protected by loopholes in the US legal system.
Morally, you can do what you wish. If you’re set on saving money with Project Free TV, tread carefully and limit your risk of malware and other adult-related content that may fill your screen and speakers.