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Safer Streaming

Even before the coronavirus pandemic, the market for streaming services was in a solid growth process. The lockdown measures to contain COVID-19 have boosted demand even further, with leading streaming services even agreeing to reduce the video quality of streams at the request of the EU Commission to free up bandwidth for more important services.

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Even though the first rush of new customers to the streaming platforms has already slowed down somewhat, the increased demand in the area of video streaming has also led to an increased number of consumers who have fallen for fraudulent offers. Many consumers do not notice if they have signed up for a dubious streaming service.

The rude awakening often comes a few days later when letters arrive from lawyers or debt collection agencies demanding several hundred euros for allegedly completed annual memberships. Due to the numerous requests for help from injured parties, the European Consumer Centre Austria (ECC) has now compiled information for consumers on the subject of video streaming.

Consumers looking for streaming offers for TV series or films on the Internet often find unknown websites with particularly favourable offers in addition to well-known market leaders. Such offers often turn out to be dubious. The following fraudulent procedures are frequently used:

Many of these websites simply pretend to be something they are not: Customers register, disclose their personal data and receive nothing in return, because the advertised videos do not exist in the fake media library. Such websites are often set up with the sole purpose of data phishing. In addition to the income from the passing on of the captured data, these criminal websites are also financed by the placement of aggressive advertising.

Other websites also offer their own streaming or player software for download. This often causes great damage when customers install computer viruses or malware disguised as playback software on their systems in order to view the alleged streams.

In addition, there are often aggressively worded monetary claims for alleged subscriptions or memberships, which consumers should under no circumstances comply with. Since the demand for streaming services is so great, it is enough for the perpetrators if, for every ten thousand hits, a few victims give in to intimidation in order to make large profits from such criminal domains.

Another problem is illegal streaming platforms that disregard copyright on a large scale and thus distribute pirate copies or stolen sports broadcasts at dumping prices, stealing personal data in the process. The lawful revenue thus lost then instead finances further illegal activities and harms the general public.

Our tips for your protection

  • When choosing a streaming provider, take your time and don't be hastily guided by free promises. Compare the offers with other established providers. If the rates are unrealistically low, if customer reviews with complaints from deceived customers can be found on the web or if films are offered that are still running in cinemas, it is better to refrain from the offer and choose other providers.
  • Make sure that the website makes a serious impression and adheres to formal rules: Are there many text errors on the website? Do the imprint and terms of use appear credible? Are aggressive pop-up banners or offensive advertising used? Is the domain redirected to another internet address? If this is the case, the offer is probably not trustworthy.
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  • Another sign for fraudulent offers is the handling of rights of use: Are claims about the service being legal repeated all over the website? Are there instructions on how to access the site via proxy servers or how to circumvent country blocks? Have search engines deleted the page from the hit lists? Has a warning service placed the site on its blacklist? Can users upload videos they did not create themselves?
  • If you decide on a provider, please pay attention to the following points before and during the registration process: Does a customer service exist? Check it with a test call. Is there a button to confirm your order and payment and are the costs displayed, as required by law? To be on the safe side, use a credit card or an online payment service for payment. This way you give out less data and can arrange for the payment processor to use chargeback if necessary.

What to do if you have already fallen into a trap?

Do not pay anything, even if the claim is accompanied by threats! If you are uncertain about the legality of a claim, you should ask the ECC. Report your experiences to the cybercrime hotlines so that other people can be warned of fraudsters.

We have compiled these and further advice into the Safer Streaming Brochure (pdf)  downloads in all 24 different languages are available at the very end of this article.


Links collection:

Pictogram about "Caught in subscription trap"

caught in subscription trap

Non-commercial lists of legal offers

Legal free and fee-based offers in Austria - List of the WKO / FAMA…

Growing pan-European and general collection of legal offers, results filterable by topic and country

Legal streaming of sports events, to be filtered by sport and country, provided by sports rights managers…

Worldwide listing of legal music streaming services

Commercial search platforms - Which series, which film is available on which platform?

the watchworthy App

New releases from various providers presented on

Special Interest and topic related offers

Arthouse movies for cineasts: Mubi

Arthouse movies for cineasts: Netzkino

Arthouse movies for cineasts: Festival Scope

Arthouse movies for cineasts: La Cinetek

Arthouse movies for cineasts: Realeyz

Specialised in anime, manga and other animation genres: ConTV

Specialised in anime, manga and other animation genres: Crunchy Roll

Austrian productions at Filmarchiv Austria

Recent Austrian productions as well as ORF productions: Filmmit

Recent Austrian productions as well as ORF productions: VOD Club

Austrian productions in the ORF media library

3Sat Media Library

The film section of the Internet Archive offers historical films back to the silent film era

The Cinenet Youtube channel offers entire films from all genres, mostly of older vintage.

Warning websites

Warning of against voucher code scams for Netflix and others.

Latest list of streaming scam sites on

New messages about streaming fraud on…

Our own list of fraudulent websites 2018

2019 Tarnkappe Warning List

Advice page with comprehensive domain lists from Verbaucherzentrale Deutschland…

Warning page of the Swiss Police Department for Cybercrime…

Advice sites for streaming

Safer Internet is an Austrian platform with tips on safety for consumers on the subject of streaming, among other thing…

numerous tips and brochures for parents - youth protection topics on

The advice page of the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Chamber of Labour on the topic of streaming…

EUROPOL - European initiative to combat computer crime, special streaming council page

RTR e-paper on provisions for publications on on-demand services (uploading to You-Tube, etc.)

Warning against illegal IPTV boxes - unsafe hardware

Reporting points for internet fraud

Austrian Cybercrime Reporting Centre of the Ministry of the Interior

Internet ombudsman's office - with the possibility of submitting a complaint online

Competent arbitration and counselling centres

VKI counselling if the problematic company is based in Austria

ECC Austria, if the problematic enterprise is domiciled outside Austria and in the EU, Iceland, Norway or Great Britain…

Free mediation and help with problems on the internet (Ombudsstelle)

Counselling centre of the Chamber of Labour, for contact choose respective federal state office

ÖIAT (Austrian Institute for Applied Telecommunications) also arbitrates in individual cases

Relevant contributions

Online edition of our Konsument supplement on the topic of streaming, which will be published in the summer

Consumer articles on streaming apps

DerStandard article on the streaming boom at the beginning of the Corona crisis

NYTimes article on the upheaval in Hollywood due to the new streaming era

Techcrunch article on corona-related throttling of streaming bandwidths in the EU

ORF article on dangerous VPN services

Techbook Artikel zur Malwaregefahr beim illegalen (Sport-)Streamen

AGDok Professional Article Market Overview Streaming in Germany

pixalate technical article on defrauding the advertising industry through illegal OTT sites

Official US report on the threat of malware via illegal downloads (pdf, EN)

EUROVOD Yearbook 2019/2020

Scientific contribution by Jane Shattuc on the significance of Netflix and the streaming boom

Futurezone article on liability for illegal streaming

Youth protection

Austrian site saferinternet for parents

Pan-European platform with advice for parents better internet for kids

2020 Study on Internet Safety for Children…

How the corona crisis is changing children´s and young people´s media use

EU Kids online, survey results…


EUIPO - comprehensible overview of the legal situation in copyright in individual EU countries

IRDETO report on online piracy in the context of social media (pdf)

European Commission - new EU Copyright Directive

EUIPO/Europol Annual Report 2019 on the Threat of Copyright Infringement in the EU…

Court decisions on illegal streamripping

EU Directive to end geo-blocking of digital services on EU territory

DISCLAIMER for links:
Many external third-party websites are listed on this page. The respective provider or operator of the sites is always responsible for the content of the linked sites. The legal offers of commercial providers mentioned are documented examples from leading companies. Their mention should not be taken as an endorsement of the products/services they offer.

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