You must have heard that it’s possible to record Netflix movies, for as long as you have a registered account with Netflix. But this may not always be the case. In fact, the same applies to Spotify users. There are instances where you may or may not be able to record music from Spotify. This is even if you have a paid account with them.
Several years ago, people relied on cassette tapes to record their favorite radio songs. Then they would listen to the mixtapes at a later time. Fast forward to the year 2000, CDs replaced the good old cassette tapes. Music lovers would record all their favorite tunes on a disc. Then they would listen to it in their car or computer at any time they wanted to.
Now, cassette tapes and CDs are already a thing of the past. People now use their smartphones to stream any kind of media content, thanks to the Internet.
The answer is yes and no, and here’s why.
You Can’t Because of the Rules
You might argue that it’s possible to record Netflix movies since Netflix is giving users the option to download its content for offline viewing. But keep in mind that recording any type of media content, whether it’s from Spotify, Netflix, or any other online streaming service, is definitely against copyright laws.
The producers and artists behind these movies and music definitely don’t want their work to be recorded or copied. They worked hard to produce it so they want their viewers and listeners to pay. Indeed, they make money out of the monthly subscription fees. So, if you decide to record their movies without paying for any subscription fees, they will be left with no financial support.
Having said that, it’s not surprising to read in the terms of service of these streaming companies that recording content is totally unacceptable.
Section 6E of Netflix’ terms of service states that users should not archive or download content. But caching content for personal use is acceptable. It further states that reproducing, distributing, modifying, and publishing content for monetary purposes is not allowed. This applies to all content obtained from Netflix. Users must first ask for permission from Netflix as well as its licensors before reproducing or distributing content obtained from the website. It’s clear from this statement that it’s illegal to record Netflix movies and shows.
Spotify clearly states on their terms of service that copying, reproducing, redistributing, transferring, and recording any of the music or media content that the Spotify service offers is not permitted. They have clearly specified that copying or saving a copy of any of the music content is totally prohibited.
In Hulu’s terms of service, Section 3 states that users should not use any software or device to download, copy, and stream content from their website. Furthermore, it prohibits users from reproducing, duplicating, archiving, modifying, publishing, and uploading any of the content on other websites. This is if the user doesn’t have written permission from Hulu.
In Section 6 of Pandora’s terms of service, it stated that they prohibit the recording of any content on the media streaming service. They also don’t allow you to share your account’s password with other users. Furthermore, the terms mention that downloading, modifying, or intercepting any of the Pandora content is not allowed.
It’s clear from these statements that recording movies or any content from these streaming media services is completely illegal. Aside from the four websites mentioned above, you’ll find several other streaming media platforms that have similar terms. This is when it comes to the recording and reproducing their content.
Attention: Read before you continue
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But Technically You Can
But don’t lose hope just yet. This is because you might still be able to obtain a copy of these movies and other media content. These copyright laws are somewhat tricky and involve lots of technicalities.
If you copy any content online that’s protected by copyright laws, then you’re technically doing something illegal. You are breaking the law under the DMCA or the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Except for some few exemptions, you should not be creating copies of any content online if it requires “modifying” the locks that protect it. But it’s another thing if you don’t have to break any locks.
The Betamax Case
Let’s take a look at some of the most famous cases concerning copyright laws. One of the most popular cases is the Betamax case, which involved the Sony Corporation of America and Universal Studios.
According to the US Supreme Court ruling, recording and viewing copyrighted materials for personal use and not for commercial purposes, is not considered copyright infringement. The Supreme Court ruled that manufacturers of VCRs are not liable for the infringement that the end user may commit. It is for this reason why VCRs became hugely popular even though they were used to make pirated copies of TV content.
Of course, we no longer have the Betamax format these days. Yet the court ruling has lived along with the VCRs that made it easier for users to record their favorite TV shows.
As you see, it’s not yet clear whether we can record Netflix movies or not. For now, this subject is still in a grey area. Although the Congress reviews and rewrites copyright laws all the time, most of these changes are based on case laws. This includes the Betamax case or the Aereo.
So, unless some lawsuit concerning the recording of media content online goes to court, the answer to the question on whether or not we can record on-demand content online remains uncertain.
Let us know in the comments below if you have ever used a VPN when streaming movies online!