Streaming online – know the risks

Did you know that last year in the Republic of Ireland…

  • 2 in 5 illegal streamers* experienced a virus, fraud or personal data theft
  • 1 in 3 illegal streamers* had problems with their devices
  • 1 In 4 illegal streamers* had their devices infected with viruses
  • Over 200,000 illegal streamers* were hacked

*Illegal streamers are those who stream through a modified box, stick, add-on or via an unauthorised website.

All data from: Walnut Unlimited/Industry Trust 2022,2023**


What is illegal streaming?

Illegal streaming is streaming illicit copies of any content, including films, TV shows, or sports, without the copyright owner's permission. This can include watching illegal content using an add-on accessed from a device like a set-top box or a stick, streaming from an unauthorised website, or streaming via an app (on a smart TV, mobile phone, tablet, laptop or games console).

Streaming hardware devices like set-top-boxes or Amazon Firesticks / Google Chromecasts in their unaltered form are legal - but many are being modified and then sold, with unauthorised add-ons pre-installed that allow people to access, stream and watch copyrighted content illegally. Elsewhere, through social media sites like Facebook & YouTube, illicit links and streams to pirated film/TV & sports content are posted without the copyright holder's permission.

Finally, whilst using a Virtual Private Network (or VPN) to add extra security to your online data is perfectly legal, it is against the vast majority of streaming platforms' terms of service to use a VPN to unlock content specifically unavailable within your own country. Some examples of pirated content are films that are not yet released in the ROI, TV programmes that haven't aired yet or that are only being shown in the ROI on streaming services for which you don't have an account, pay-per-view offerings for which you have not paid and sports events that are aired legally only on sports channels for which you do not have a subscription.

In short, if you are streaming and watching films, TV or sports content through an unauthorised source - for free or paid-for - then you are streaming illegally.

What are the risks?

You also risk being exposed to dangerous malware and/or the risk of fraud and data theft. This risk increases significantly when you exchange credit or debit card information to view content on unregulated and pirate-run websites.

Additionally, watching content via an unauthorised source can expose younger viewers to explicit advertisements and age-inappropriate content. Unlike most legal sources, these unauthorised websites, devices, apps, add-ons, and the content they can access have no effective parental controls.

How to stay safe online

  • Get It Right can help you identify how to access legal content and give you more support to keep you safe. Get It Right enables you to get the music, TV, films, games, books, newspapers, magazines and sports you love from genuine and safe services.
  • Or via BeStreamWise, you can find where you can safely stream the Film & TV Shows you love while protecting yourself and your household from cyber-criminals.

**For further information regarding these statistics, please contact the Irish Industry Trust for IP Awareness via email.