General Streaming Sites
Classic and Contemporary Feature Films
Documentaries and Educational Films
American Politics, History, and Culture
The free streaming sites mentioned on this page are all recommended, but they represent only a portion of those that are available on the web. With so many streaming sites out there, it can sometimes be difficult to determine whether the content on a given site is pirated. Here are a few things to look for when judging the legality of a streaming site. Please keep in mind that these are not the sole determining factors, and that if you are unsure about the legality of a site, it is best to find a legitimate alternative.
1. Legitimate free sites are unlikely to feature new releases.
Most free streaming sites feature older films. The newest films on these sites are often at least two or three years old. If you find a free streaming site that features titles that are still in theaters, or that have just been released on DVD and video-on-demand (VOD) services, the site is most likely illegal. A useful maxim when it comes to free streaming sites is that if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
2. Legitimate free sites should state where they get their movies.
Some free sites feature only titles that fall under public domain. Other sites have an agreement with, or permission from, a studio or distributor. Look for an "About Us" page that will state where the site gets its content.
3. Legitimate free sites often feature advertisements.
Since these sites are not charging subscription fees, they often make their money from advertisements. These ads might be banner ads or click ads, or, in the case of sites like Crackle and Hulu, the ads may play intermittently during the films or television episodes you are watching.
4. Legitimate free sites should list contact information.
Legal sites should make their contact information easy to find. Look for the "About Us" or "Contact Us" link on the website.