Why Project Free TV Works in the USA but Not Many Other Countries

Americans are lucky.

by Monica Hunter-Hart
Flickr / anieto2k

If you live in the USA, you won’t be fined for using Project Free TV. But you might not be so lucky if you live in a different country; in fact, you might not even be able to access the website.

Unless you’re in Turkmenistan and your internet service provider (ISP) is just the government, your country probably has several ISPs. Examples in the United States include Comcast, AT&T, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon.

ISPs can take away internet as easily as they provide it. They can block access to websites and are sometimes forced to do so by governments or courts that decree websites to be illegal. The U.S. government does this, too, but considerably less often than most places.

The United States’ Digital Millennium Copyright Act provides enough legal loopholes for search engines like Project Free TV to avoid liability, even though they link to illegal content. Because it’s considered legal in the States, the website isn’t censored, even though it does help users access unlicensed videos.

But it’s censored in many other countries. Your mind may jump to places like China, North Korea, Cuba, and Saudi Arabia, which are famous for internet censorship. But Project Free TV has also met ire from countries that are considered to have relatively open internets.

Project Free TV has been banned in the UK since 2013 when the High Court blocked a series of websites it saw as promoting piracy. Perhaps the most recent measure against the website occurred in January 2017, when Norway added Project Free TV to its blocklist.

A message you might see in the UK if you try to access Project Free TV.

Screenshot via Torrent Freak (TF)

More generally, the governments of Australia, France, and Canada have also tended to impose stricter website blocking regimens than the United States. Australia blocked Pirate Bay and other torrenting sites; France cut down access to terrorist propaganda (the U.S.’ Federal Communications Commission cannot do that); Canada privileged state-owned online gambling services to put more money in its own pocket.

Of course the United States sometimes gives too much power to its ISPs and avoids regulation to the detriment of consumers. But when it comes to free TV series, everyone except copyright holders is probably pretty psyched.

So, Americans: Next time you’re chilling out with a VPN-less Game of Thrones, remember how lucky you are.

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