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Watching 123Movies Safely. Is it legal and what alternatives are there?

Last edited: June 25, 2020
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Watching 123Movies Safely. Is it legal and what alternatives are there? A summary

123Movies has been around for a while and it has proven to be very popular with people wanting to stream movies online. However, it might be illegal to watch 123Movies in your home country. For those countries, we’ve listed some (legal) alternatives. These are the key points from the article below:

  • Watching streams on 123Movies is probably not allowed in your country. It depends on your country’s resources whether or not you will be prosecuted if they find you watching copyrighted content.
  • In March of 2018 the website shut down, with a note on their homepage stating “respect filmmakers by paying for movies and TV-shows”. This means that every site after 2018 are copies of the original website hosted by others.
  • Some popular legal alternatives to 123Movies are paid services such as Netflix, Disney Plus and Amazon Prime.

Is is known that a lot of people use VPNs to stay safe and anonymous online when using streaming services. This is also the case for people using 123Movies. A well-known and popular VPN that people use and have used to watch 123Movies anonymously is Surfshark. Still, be wary that 123Movies isn’t legal everywhere, and you should always make sure you’re not breaking the law if you’re interested in watching 123Movies.

Do you want to know more about 123Movies, and what some of the popular legal alternatives are? Read the complete article below.

123Movies used to be one of the most popular websites to stream movies and tv-shows online. It was also know under the names “GoMovies”, “GoStream”, “MeMovies” and “123movieshub”. The official 123Movies website was taken down in March of 2018, but copies of the site still exist and are accessible through online mirrors. Even so, 123Movies still is a very popular search term according to Google Trends and it shows that these streaming services are still in high demand.

That being said, law-enforcement agencies from around the world have been keeping a close eye on any site or service that allows users to view copyrighted content without paying for it. This raises the questions: are you allowed to stream movies and shows from 123Movies? What do people do to keep themselves safe when using 123Movies? And what decent alternatives are out there?

Is it Illegal to use 123Movies?

The answer to this question is that using 123Movies is probably illegal in most cases. We say probably, because every country and region has its own stance on pirating copyrighted content. Most countries try to protect intellectual property by outlawing the downloading (and therefore streaming) of copyrighted content. However, there are some countries that allow it for personal use or allow it altogether.

Because every country has different rules regarding copyright infringement and piracy, you should always make sure what your country’s rules are before going to a site like 123Movies, PrimeWire or Putlocker. These are some of the general stances on piracy we could find:

Stance on piracy Countries
Pirating is legal or allowed (for personal use) Poland, Spain, Switzerland
Pirating is illegal Australia, China, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, United States
Pirating is illegal, but individuals are not actively prosecuted Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Columbia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Greece, India, Israel, Iran, Mexico, Netherlands, Philippines, Romania, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Uruguay

It is important to note that there is almost no difference between the downloading of copyrighted content and streaming it. Streaming means you’re downloading something and watching it in real time, only for it to be cleared from your cache when you leave a certain page. However, you have still downloaded the movie or show. Streaming can be compared to downloading a torrent, then immediately watching it and deleting it when you’re done.

Not only do countries have different rules when it comes to streaming, countries also differ in what consequences there are for breaking those rules. For example, in Germany you get fined quite severely when the authorites find out you’re downloading copyrighted content, while in other countries you might just get a warning. With streaming services such as 123Movies, it’s even harder to prosecute, because there are no files left on someone’s computer after watching a stream, alhtough you can easily be tracked by your IP address.

Not all countries put effort into enforcing the rules by actively prosecuting people who use illegal streaming services. Often times, the authorites go after the people distributing the content, rather than the individual viewers. However, when you’re in a country that does crack down on copyright infringement, you might get a hefty fine in the mail. And this can get very expensive. If you want to know more about these types of fines, check out our article on fines for downloading.

How to Watch 123Movies in a Safe Way

Because the use of 123Movies is not allowed in a lot of countries, we cannot o not condone the use of it in said countries. However, there are also a lot of countries where you are allowed to use such a streaming service (even if it’s just for personal use).

In the countries where it is allowed though, you do need to protect yourself from prying eyes, viruses and malicious website hosts if you use a 123Movies mirror. It’s advisable to use antivirus software and a VPN to protect your data and device. A popular VPN these days is Surfshark. Using a VPN like Surfshark will hide all your internet and streaming activities from your internet service provider and governments.

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Using antivirus software and a VPN ensures that you are adequately protected against malware and spying website admins. Still, we want to be clear that downloading and viewing copyrighted content is only allowed in a small amount of countries. Even though a VPN will make you anonymous and prevent you from being caught when using streaming services like 123Movies, it is still advised to act according to the local law. If you’re unclear of what the rules are, consult a local expert on the matter.

Is it Dangerous to Use 123Movies?

We’ve already discussed briefly whether or not you’re allowed to watch content on a site like 123Movies. However, we haven’t gone into possible safety risks when using such a site apart from the fines you can get.

When we look at the safety of a site like 123Movies, it’s hard to give a simple yes or no answer to the questions ‘is it safe?’. This all depends on a couple of factors, most of wich are controlled by the person hosting the website.

Because the official website of 123Movies isn’t online anymore, the only way to access its database is through copies also know as mirrorsof the website, also know as mirrors. These are hosted and controlled by a third party that doesn’t have to had been involved in the original 123Movies website. This means there’s no quality control. The owner of a copy can inject the site with malware or may track some of your data. And because there are so many copies, it’s impossible to say whether or not all of these mirrors are safe. Trutch be told, some of the mirrors are safe, and some aren’t. The only ways to make sure you stay safe are protecting yourself with a VPN and antivirus software, or not using 123Movies.

Watch out for Mirrors

As mentioned before, 123Movies has been officially taken down in 2018. Every site that resembles 123Movies or uses its name after that is a copy/mirror. These copies try to look like the original as much as possible. The downside is that they could be owned by anyone. As we’ve already said, this could mean that some of these mirrors are used to spread malware. And it’s hard to report these mirrors to the authorities, because they can just be taken down and put back up under a different name.

Sadly, it’s hard to find streaming and downloading sites that are both free and legal. The truth is, when you’re dealing with copyrighted content, the most straightforward way of getting access is through websites or streaming services that are subscription-based. These websites or services ask a relatively small amount of money for a large database of movies and shows. And even though these don’t always contain the newest movies and shows like illegal streaming sites often do, they do have a pretty big collection. We listed some popular legal alternatives to 123Movies below.

Legal alternatives to 123Movies

Streaming service Specifics
Netflix Almost everyone knows Netflix. It’s probably the biggest streaming service with a wide variety of movies and shows. This is why Netflix is the way to go for a lot of people. On top of that, if you use a VPN, you can expand your Netflix catalog.
Amazon Prime Video Amazon Prime is not dissimilar to Netflix. It has a lesser database of movies and shows compared to Netflix, but they might have the show you really want to watch. It is also a cheaper.
Disney Plus Disney Plus is focussed completely on all things Disney. If you are a huge fan of Disney, we would definitely recommend you take a look at Disney Plus. A very popular title on Disney Plus is The Mandalorian.
HBO Now HBO is like Disney Plus, in that it only has shows from a certain network (in this case of coure, HBO). It might not have the same amount of movies and shows as Netflix, but it has some very high-quality shows like Band of Brothers, The Sopranos and Game of Thrones.
Hulu Hulu is great for live sports. It’s something they advertise with all the time. It’s a little cheaper than Netflix, but has less movies. We would advise you check out Hulu if you’re looking for a streaming service that also offers a wide variety of live sports. In some countries Hulu is not available, in which case you need a VPN to access Hulu.
YouTube TV YouTube TV is pretty expensive, but that’s because it works a little different in comparison to other streaming services. Instead of having shows and movies, it gives you access to a lot of different TV networks. 70 to be exact. With just one subscription, you can access networks like like Fox, ESPN, ABC and CBS.
Sling TV Sling TV is most similar to YouTube TV. The difference is that Sling TV lets you combine your own set of networks and channels, instead of giving them all for a set price.

Know that not all of these alternatives above work everywhere in the world. Some are focused only on the United States, while others such as Disney Plus are only available in a couple of countries at this moment. If you want to access these services, you would have to use a quality VPN to change your virtual location.

Disclaimer: the article above is meant as informational. We are not lawyers and this isn’t legal advice, so don’t take it as such. Also, every country has its own laws and these laws change constantly, so be aware of that. If you have any questions regarding the rules and regulations in your country, please consult with a local expert on said regulations.

Watching 123Movies Safely. Is it legal and what alternatives are there? - FAQ

Are you stuck with a question regarding 123Movies that you don’t have the answer to? Check out this FAQ-section to see if we have the answer. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, feel free to leave us a comment.

Probably not. we say probably because downloading/streaming copyrighted content is not allowed in most countries. This is not true for every country though. Because of the difference in laws and regulations, you should make sure what the rules are in the country that you’re in. We would also advise you to read our entire article on 123Movies and its legality and alternatives.

This all depends on the country that you’re in when using 123Movies. In some countries it’s illegal, in others it is not. And even if you are in one of the countries where it’s illegal, they don’t always go after the individual downloader. The consequences range from absolutely nothing, to fines of hundreds of dollars.

Probably not. Not only do you risk getting a fine when using 123Movies in certain countries, the official site of 123Movies has been taken down and has been replaced by all kind of copies. These copies are owned by people who could potentially inject malware to the site or show you malicious ads.

Some popular (legal) alternatives to 123Movies are:

  • Netflix
  • Hulu
  • Disney Plus
  • YouTube TV
  • Sling TV
  • HBO Now

You need a paid subscription to access most of these services, and not all of them might work in your country.

Cybersecurity analyst
David is a cyber security analyst and one of the founders of VPNoverview.com. Interested in the "digital identity" phenomenon, with special attention to the right to privacy and protection of personal data.

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