Putlocker Isn’t Safe Unless You Do This
Given how many movies and TV shows are available on Putlocker, the indexing site is massively popular. But with all the shady pop-up ads and questions of copyright infringement, a lot of people wonder, is it safe to use?
Before we go further, lets differentiate between two main questions that are likely on your mind:
1. Will Putlocker harm my computer?
2. Can using Putlocker get me in legal trouble?
Below we’ll address them both.
Will Putlocker Harm My Computer?
One of the first things that stands out when you go onto Putlocker are the pop-ups. As soon as you arrive at the site you’re bombarded with ads, and wherever you click, new ones appear.
Not all pop-up ads are dangerous. Some are just annoying. However, others try to trick you into installing malware on your computer, or into giving away personal information that could be used for identity theft.
A lot of the ads disguise themselves as being necessary for streaming. Many will show big play buttons, so that you’ll click on them, thinking that’s how you start watching. Others say that you can only continue watching if you sign in.
In reality, these have nothing to do with the link that you’re trying to stream from. Clicking on these could allow spyware, keystroke loggers, or other malicious apps onto your computer.
Another potential pitfall of pop-up ads are that they could contain trackers that follow your online activity. Without you having any idea, these trackers are used to build a personal profile of your interests, which is then sold to a third party that uses it to target you with more specific ads.
Also common are pop-up ads that tell you that your computer has a virus or that your computer’s security is being compromised. These are called a “scareware” messages.
These ads will either direct you to a phone number or website where a salesperson will try to get you to buy antivirus software, or they’ll prompt you to install antivirus software or updates. This is scam.
Sometimes, they just want to trick you into buying expensive software that you don’t need. Not only is this bad because you’re getting ripped off; it also means you’re handing over your credit card information to a bunch of con artists.
And sometimes, the software they have you download is actually malware, which can be used to collect your personal data (leading to identity theft), or ransomware (which allows them to take over your computer and hold it hostage until you pay up).
We will note that streaming online sometimes requires you to install or update legitimate software on your computer. For instance, you may actually need to update Adobe Flash Player or Adobe Shockwave Player.
However, you should never follow a prompt from a pop-up ad – even if it leads you to a site that looks legitimate. If you have reason to believe you need to install new software or an update, open a new window and go to the real Adobe website.
Image: Real Adobe Flash Player download page.
Image: Fake Adobe Flash Player download prompt. Looks legit, right?
Can Using Putlocker Get Me in Legal Trouble?
What makes the legality of Putlocker questionable is the fact that a lot (ok, most) of the content on it is copyrighted and is posted without permission.
Tons of links are taken down every day due to copyright infringement.
However, the question of who can be held responsible for copyright infringement is not so clear.
Since its establishment in 2012, Putlocker has had many run-ins with the legal systems of the UK, the US, and Australia. However, it’s continued to pop up over and over, with different URLs with different country codes (although it’s not apparent if these new sites are run by the original company or copycats).
Copyright laws are different in different jurisdictions, so whether or not streaming on Putlocker is legal depends on where you live.
In most jurisdictions, it’s pretty clear that the person uploading copyrighted material is breaking the law. It’s also possible that Putlocker is breaking the law by knowingly hosting pirated content. However, in many places, as long as you’re not downloading the movies or TV shows, and instead simply streaming them, you’re in something of a gray area.
While many use Putlocker with no problem, others have been hit with notices of copyright infringement.
What Can I Do to Protect Myself?
To stay safe while streaming on Putlocker, you’re going to need three things:
1. An ad-blocker
2. Antivirus software
3. A virtual private network (VPN)
The first step in getting rid of pop-up ads is using an ad-blocker. Ad-blocking extensions can be found for all the major browsers, so you should easily be able to find the one for the browser you use. Here you can find some of the best.
That said, it’s possible for some ads to get passed your blocker, and in any case, it’s always a good idea to have antivirus protection installed on your computer. Some of the big names in antivirus software are McAfee, Norton, and Avast. With a bit of research you should have no trouble finding one that fits your budget and that will keep your computer secure.
Bear in mind, however, that while ad-blockers and antivirus will help protect your computer, they won’t do anything to help you stream anonymously.
In order to be sure you’ll stay out of legal trouble, you need a VPN.
A VPN works by encrypting all your internet traffic and redirecting it through one of their servers before it gets to the website you’re trying to access. By doing this, your IP address gets hidden, and the one that the website receives is the one belonging to the VPN.
In other words, none of your online activity – including your visit to Putlocker – can be traced back to you.
That means that even if it turns out that you accidentally stumbled into a copyright infringement issue, there’s no way for the authorities to know that you were even on Putlocker, let alone that you streamed copyrighted content.
That said, not all VPNs are created equal. Some of the poorer quality ones can slow down your internet, which is going to be a huge problem if you’re using your VPN for streaming.
That’s why we recommend one of these:
These VPNs are some of the top rated and most popular on the market, and are all proven to provide airtight privacy and security. And as a bonus, they can protect you from hackers, and will allow you access to geo-blocked content, including sites like Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer. To find out more about how VPNs work, and what they can do for you, click here.
Now you have everything you need to safely stream on Putlocker.