Online streaming service: A quick look at free movie sites

Free movies (especially those shared via P2P network) are usually considered as piracy movies. And movie studios are now more and more aggressive in protecting their copyrights, like sending copyrights infringement letters to individuals with the help from ISPs.

However, it is not always the case. We’d like to use this blog series to give a snap view of free but legit movies.

In a nutshell, there are two types of free and legit movies.

  1. Ads-funded movies
    Some movie sites can buy licenses from studios, and then rely on in-movie advertisements or subscription fee to make money. The license fee paid to movie studios can be really expensive. For example, the expenses of adding new contents to Netflix’s streaming library soars from 64 million in 2009 to 2.3 billion in 2011. In the following posts, we use a special term for these ads-funded movies – ‘Free with ads’.
  2. Public domain movies
    Public domain movies are those whose intellectual property rights have expired, been forfeited, or are inapplicable. These works are available for public use. They can be downloaded and redistributed for free.

Here is a short list of movie sites which provide free online movie streaming service:

Site Name Type Free movies count
Internet Archive Public domain movies About 8000, some are short films
Youtube Free / from other sites About 2000 (exclude Indian films and African films). Other sites like Crackle, Viewster also upload movies to Youtube.
Hulu Free with ads About 2500
Crackle Free with ads About 200, some are well-known movies.
Popcornflix Free with ads About 500, many are independent films.
SnagFilms Free About 1000, most are document films.
Viewster Free with ads About 1000

We will have more detailed analysis on these sites in upcoming posts.

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