Online streaming platforms are as old as the 21st century. We’ve seen the likes of Netflix and Amazon grow to become streaming giants. In a bid to woo users of these subscription-based platforms, similar platforms have emerged as “free” alternatives and in most cases, not even a “sign-up” is required for access. Putlocker surfaced as one of those alternatives. However, like with most online platforms flying the banner of free access, Putlocker came with its own baggage – a threat to safety; and then there is the problem of copyright infringement.
Over the years, Putlocker has somewhat evolved and today, one could adequately describe it as being hydra-headed; with over 50 mirror sites with the Putlocker name. It remains unknown if the original team members continue to operate an official website.
What Is Putlocker And How Does It Work?
In simple terms, Putlocker is a file-hosting index website that provides content (movies) for streaming by its users. How does it work? Putlocker doesn’t host the movies its users stream but only serves as a platform to link its users with sites that contain the host link to the movie they want to stream. It is similar to the way Torrent sites work. Users do not need to sign up, just launch any of the Putlocker platforms and proceed to watch whatever movie of your choice.
The origins of Putlocker can be traced back to the United Kingdom, the platform began its operations in 2011 as Putlocker.com and being free, it immediately attracted users, as many as 800,000 per day by the start of 2012. A little while after its launch, those numbers went up to an average of 1.6 million per day after the famous MegaUpload, owned by Kim Dotcom, voluntarily shut down their service due to copyright infringement.
MegaUpload which was once the 13th most visited website on the worldwide web had its base in Hong Kong. It had a net income of over HK$175 million and at least 180 million registered members, but unfortunately, the fast-growing online company shut down operations after a clampdown by the United States government on grounds that the company’s business was infringing copyrights, charges leveled against the platform also included money laundering and wire fraud. MegaUpload would later rebrand as Mega, a cloud storage service in January 2013.
The MegaUpload debacle was enough to worry folks at Putlocker and about two months later, it had garnered attention from authorities. Like MegaUpload, the services that Putlocker was offering threatened movie production companies.
Is Putlocker Legal And Safe To Use?
Fast forward to May 2016, the official Putlocker website had been shut down by an order from the United Kingdom High Court and then began the multiple reemergences of the file-hosting index website under different URLs all bearing the Putlocker name.
The Motion Picture Association of America had reported the platform as a piracy threat thus declaring it illegal for use. Versions of the platform in Vietnam, Iceland, and Australia emerged, all of which were later shut down. However, the platform seems to pose a hydra-headed problem to authorities as versions of the platform continue to surface with the number now over 50.
To answer the question of whether or not Putlocker is legal to use is dependent on a user’s location. It definitely is illegal in the United States. A certain Fresno native, Trevon Maurice Franklin who downloaded the movie Deadpool and uploaded it to Facebook a week after its release was slapped with a 24-day sentence. Following a ruling by the European Court in April 2017, streaming pirated movies was declared illegal, thus for those in the EU as well Putlocker is illegal.
In other counties including Canada, streaming the content isn’t illegal but the distribution of the illegal content for use on a mass scale is deemed illegal. However users, regardless of their location use the platform, shielding their location with a VPN.
Regarding the safety of Putlocker, there is no yes-or-no answer, the greatest threat to its safety is adware and malware. Platforms like Putlocker do not have a real flow of funds, thus the only way it makes money is via ad revenue and the multiple ads on sites that the platform link to is enough to make anyone cringe.
A click on almost anywhere on the page triggers multiple redirects most times to inappropriate content and not even the use of adblockers can completely keep out these annoying popups. Hidden in pages on those redirects are malware that could pose threats to the user. However, for savvy users on the internet street, there is always a smart way to navigate through, a newbie is definitely at a higher risk.