Yes, absolutely, and there are many countries around the world that recognize the value of IPTV, just as there are countries around the world that have laws restricting Internet access to children. Is IPTV illegal? The simple answer to that question is no, but the long answer may be somewhat confusing. There are a few things we need to clarify before making a statement as to whether or not IPTV is illegal.
Is IPTV illegal? That’s a tricky question, one that has a bit of a gray area. While it’s hard to draw a straight line between IPTV and cable, it’s easy to draw a line between using it and using regular broadcast television (as in, you can’t watch TV on your PC or iPhone while you’re watching IPTV on your TV – yet!). Both regular broadcast and IPTV are part of a hybrid service provider model, where they are both used for delivering internet services (IPTV streams). So is IPTV illegal in the USA?
Some argue that Canada has more restrictive laws regarding television and radio and that IPTV would be easily exported to Canada if it were legal. However, the situation is more complicated than that. First of all, most cable operators in Canada offer standard definition video channels – which include all Canadian channels (except for Quebec), as well as some American channels (which are usually restricted to white or black sockets and/or play in lower quality than standard channels). In other words, by any standard, regular television and/or radio stations are available in Canada, which means that any viewable content via IPTV would also be available via standard definition channels.
However, this doesn’t mean that watching regular television is illegal in Canada. If you subscribe to an opt subscription through your television provider and use your television regularly (and not just occasionally), you are subscribing to it, whether or not you’re using your television for the purpose of viewing its content. This is because you are paying for the privilege of receiving IPTV channels; not for the viewing of the pit signal itself. Therefore, it is perfectly legal to view IPTV signals on your television. You are paying for the privilege of a subscription (and not the viewing of a signal itself), and you should not be punished for that.
Similar to Canada, Germany has lax laws regarding its transmission. While providers cannot prohibit subscribers from receiving IPTV signals (as long as they have signed up to its providers and are using their channels for legitimate purposes), they can discriminate in terms of the packages they provide to subscribers by licensing specific channels. The result is that subscribers who have access to Dish networks (hatched from Clear Channel, which is the biggest owner of its channels) satellite TV packages may not find many channels available through other “dish” providers. Subscribers who have signed up to Sling TV, DirecTV, and Sky Digital (which also owns Sky Deutschland) will be able to see a larger variety of channels via their subscription providers.
In the US, cable companies are not allowed to charge subscribers for connection to their IPTV service. Instead, all television service providers are required to offer it for free as part of a contract. However, if you already have a television set (and are signed up to a television service provider), you may have to pay a fee every month in order to use that service. The fees vary by provider: fees can be based on the number of channels you watch, the amount of time you spend watching the channel or both. Satellite television providers are not bound by this contract agreement; they can choose whether or not to include it in their lineup.
Some people argue that since satellite, cable, and television stations themselves are not copyrighted or trademarked, it is not legal to provide it as a service. However, this argument is not entirely true because copyright laws have changed in recent years. Specifically, in 1998 the US Copyright Office began to list any intellectual property that was registered, regardless of whether the registration was legally done or not.
So how should you approach this issue if you want to have it for free? First of all, if you have a home internet connection, it is easy to enjoy. Simply find an application, install it, and point your web browser to the set-top box. If you have a laptop, you can also use special remote access software to access your television. If you already have a subscription with your cable or satellite company, ask them if they offer IPTV services. You can then subscribe with them, which will grant you access to live channels on your PC, as well as on-air TV at a very low cost.
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