How To Stay Legal When Cord-Cutting – A Quick & Easy Guide

By Novak Bozovic / December 23, 2017

Do you know how to stay legal when cord-cutting? Over the last few years, more people have gotten access to the reliable broadband Internet. This has made the whole experience of watching online videos much better. You can now easily watch a new movie or your favorite show from the comfort of your own computer or TV screen, without worrying about renting a DVD.

What’s more? These newer entertainment systems are incredibly capable. This means that you can enjoy a full-screen experience, stream music, and even play games – all from one system. However, you need to be careful not to enter the 'other' side of the law. Therefore, let's see how to stay legal when cord-cutting. 

It's All About Cord-Cutting!

A whole lot of this revolution can be attributed to cord-cutting. People are fed up with high cable bills and are finding new ways to get their entertainment fix at a fraction of the cost.

Seeing the demand, TV set manufacturers are stepping up. Now, you can easily connect your TV to all sorts of hardware and stream anything you like. Also, many services have popped up to feed your need for more affordable and sometimes, free entertainment. But that doesn’t mean all is rosy with cord-cutting; at least not on the legal front. Here’s everything you need to know about the gray areas, and what you need to do to stay legal when cord-cutting.

The Illegal Side of Cord-Cutting

It’s pretty easy to get online now and watch popular movies and shows for free. But it’s a whole different ball game when it comes to viewing the full-length versions without paying for them. For instance, it costs up to $14.99 to download a movie from iTunes. That’s a price a lot of cord-cutters aren’t willing to pay. After all, the whole point of cord-cutting is to spend less on such content. And even if you spend all that money, is the media ever truly yours?

How To Stay Legal When Cord-Cutting

The high prices attributed to these entertainment contents is probably the reason why so many people have come to associate cord-cutting with a whole lot of illegal practices. Some genuinely savvy people have come up with innovative but wrong ways to beat the system. But is that the right thing to do? Whatever are the odds, it will forever be better to stay legal when cord-cutting. That is possible and not very difficult.

Of course, illegal cord cutting practices can never be endorsed (at least not by TechNadu). They are an easier and more convenient way to get the shows and movies you want, but they remain illegal. This article is just pointing them out so that you know what to keep away from. So, what are some of the most common ways people use to cut the cord illegally?


The majority of people who cut their cords like to stay legal when doing so. This means that they get their content legally from streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and sports streaming sites. So it’s fair to say that, while most cord-cutters want to save money, they prefer to take the legal option.

How Piracy Works

Ignoring the dark side of the streaming world would be irresponsible. The most obvious illegal practice is piracy. Many sites let you stream or download content without paying the providers. You might have even flirted with Usenet or BitTorrent, which let you download shows and movies at no cost.

How To Stay Legal When Cord-Cutting

The truth is that sites like these exist because they provide free, easy access to content that is either overpriced or unavailable. But, while you can justify the demand, these sites are still illegal. In plain terms, what these sites do is copyright infringement. And that’s not even the worst part! These sites are usually hotbeds of viruses, malware, and other nasty things that can compromise your computer. But, even with knowledge of this, there is no doubt that piracy is still a big part of the cord-cutting culture for many people.

There is a massive demand for illegal streaming services and sports streams. As a result, torrenting and illegal download links on message boards (such as Reddit) have become even more popular. In all of these, one thing stands out clear; piracy is only a short-term solution to a completely cord-free lifestyle. To be on the safe side, stay legal when cord-cutting; avoid pirating TV content online.

Is Piracy A Sustainable Option?

The increasing number of legal streaming services and devices is proof of the very fast rate at which the TV entertainment industry is growing. It also helps that these services are getting more affordable by the day. This kind of gives assurance that the piracy phenomenon is gradually shrinking. Right now, it may seem like piracy is one step ahead of legitimate services – but it won’t stay that way forever.

Let’s look at the music industry as a case in point. Piracy in the Internet age first emerged here, especially with the launch of music sharing services like Napster. Yet music piracy didn’t fade away because of a moral awakening. This happened because the music companies made it easier and more convenient for people to get music legally. They dropped CD prices and started selling digital copies of music. But the most effective change was the introduction of affordable music streaming services. With access to an unlimited music library for a small fee, most people were willing to pay to avoid piracy.

How To Stay Legal When Cord-Cutting

The same thing could happen to cord-cutting. A lot of TV shows and movies are now available on lots of streaming services at an affordable price. You can even watch some of these on YouTube for free. Legal options for newer releases are still lagging behind, and this is one of the only aspects that is keeping the piracy business alive in the video space. It’s still common for streaming services to offer digital rentals for the latest flicks. This means that when you rent new releases, you can (illegally) make permanent copies. And since rental prices for those tend to be really high, this just encourages piracy. Of course, that's morally wrong; it is always best to stay legal when cord-cutting.

The newest episodes of popular TV shows are also big targets of piracy. Individual episodes of shows like Game of Thrones cost about $2. That's still a little pricey for the average American. In areas like Canada, there is no legal way for cord-cutters to watch this show. That explains why the piracy rate for such shows is so high. And for sports fans, sports broadcasts are another popular target of piracy. Streaming games from the major American sports leagues are always full of blackouts. This could explain why fans turn to illegal streaming to keep up with their favorite teams.

Bypassing Geo-Blocking

Geo-blocking refers to locking online content to a specific country or region. As a result, people who are located outside that area are blocked from accessing that content. More and more websites are using geo-blocking today, and it sucks.

The problem with this approach lies in the fundamental nature of the internet. The World Wide Web has made old ideas of borders kind of irrelevant. They still exist in the technical sense, but the internet has made it possible for people across borders to live in a massive global village.

But it seems some media companies and streaming services haven’t gotten that memo. That has given rise to some cord-cutters coming up with creative ways to bypass geo-blocking restrictions. This mainly involves using tactics like VPNs, free proxy servers, and DNS servers. And the more gutsy individuals go as far as using illegal streaming and file-sharing services.

How to Stay Legal When Cord-cutting

Compared to piracy and illegal streaming, cord-cutting seems to be as expensive and complicated as traditional cable TV. But if you want to stay legal when cord-cutting, here are a few options you can consider.

Find the Right Streaming Service

If you're going to use your TV to stream movies and shows, you will need to get some extra equipment. Once that is done, you can pick the perfect streaming service (or two) for you. The choice here will depend on your needs and budget. That said, many people consider the best options to be Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Video.

Netflix has a wide selection of popular TV shows. However, the major complaint with it is that the service is removing some old favorites from their menu. Instead, their focus in on producing their own content. Still, you can always find great content coming to Netflix if you do your research. You might want to check out the free one-month trial and decide if this is a great choice for you.

How To Stay Legal When Cord-Cutting

Hulu is another popular streaming service. However, you might have to sit through several commercials during a movie or episode. Its only saving grace is that Hulu lets you access the newest episodes of your favorite shows 24 to 48 hours after they are aired.

Amazon Video is a relatively new streaming service, but it has become really popular very fast. You’ll have access to old classics, newer shows, and original content. It might not have a wide selection of the other options, but many believe that it’s worth it.

If your main focus is on catching the latest movies and TV shows, then DirecTV may be the best streaming service. For a small fee, you get access to 60 channels. You can even add-on premium networks like Cinemax or HBO for only $5 each. Apart from that, you’ll be able to stream live on up to two devices.

How To Stay Legal When Cord-Cutting

But if you just want to trim the fat and watch popular TV shows, then you should go for a standalone streaming service. We’ve already mentioned adding on popular channels like HBO and Showtime to other plans, but you can also get each separately. This ensures that you only pay for the shows you want to watch on the networks that you like.

Let's Not Forget Live TV

You might be cord-cutting because you don’t watch a lot of live TV programming. Maybe you limit your TV viewing to local news and a couple of network shows. In that case, getting an HD antenna could be the best way to supplement your online streaming subscriptions. This is an incredibly cheap way to access major networks and local channels for free.

Streaming services like Hulu and Sling TV also have a live TV option now. You will have to pay for it, but you get a ton of On Demand episodes and streaming channels in return.

What About Sports?

For a long time, many sports fans have avoided cord-cutting because they could only follow their favorite teams via cable TV. Most major sports franchises, however, have started partnering with online platforms to stream their content. Now, you can watch weekly MLB matches on Facebook, as well as Thursday Night Football on Twitter and Amazon Prime.

But if you want more sports streams, you can find them on Sling TV. This has quickly become the most affordable way to find up-to-date sports content online legally.

Final Thoughts

For most people, downloading has become the preferred cord-cutting method because streaming can be a little hit or miss. Sometimes, you can access the show or movie you want in seconds. But at other times, you have to deal with excessive buffering and commercials always popping up. A two-hour movie can quickly turn into a five-hour event. Going to the dark side, however, isn’t the answer. If you want to stay legal when cord-cutting, you’ll have to pay. That’s the simple, no-filter truth.

Copyright infringement is free, simple, and very convenient. But it’s also the digital equivalent of stealing. And you could be opening yourself up to malware attacks. Not such a great trade-off, is it? The best way forward is to settle on an affordable setup. Pick a streaming service or bundle that gives you access to all the shows you want. Find the right equipment to help you meet all your entertainment needs, and most importantly, get a broadband connection that is fast enough for your streaming needs! Negotiate, haggle, and bargain until you wrangle a great deal out of your ISP. This might be difficult at the beginning, but it sure will pay off in the long run. It is, of course, the best way to stay legal when cord-cutting.

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