After the raid against the online movie portal kino.to many reactions have been made public, mostly about the consequences for the responsible persons and how to find alternatives. A very controversial issue was if the site really was illegal, or if it was just a “search engine” for movies.
While searching the web for professional opinions about the take down, I found the blog post of Enigmax, a writer for TorrentFreak, a blog dealing with topics like file sharing, innovations, piracy and copyright issues among other things. On Kino.to Uploader Speaks Out, Cyberlockers Down, Anon DDoS he reports on the police operation leading to several arrests and an interview given by an uploader for kino.to.
Johannes Sand (name changed) was regularly uploading links and gaining up to 1000 US dollar a month, he states in the interview and concludes with that he does not see himself as a criminal. Furthermore, Enigmax says that “… Kino.to hosted no illegal content, but indexed material and provided links to movies and TV shows stored on file-hosters and other streaming services.”
On Netzpolitik.org, Linus Neumann, a very frequent blogger, also argues that kino.to did not host any movies, but only provided links to hosting or streaming sites. Therefore the possible liability for providing links is discussed again, which should not be necessary anymore. So the prosecutor’s office is accusing kino.to of forming a criminal association for professionally infringing copyrights.
Another voice which confirms the general opinion, I found on mmnews.de. The attorney Christian Solmecke expresses in an interview that directly providing movies is illegal, however watching them is not, in his opinion. Whereas downloading movies is again, illicit.
In sum, most bloggers argue that just watching movies on such portals as kino.to is not illegal, and users will most probably not expect any accusations by law enforcement. On the other side, it has become very clear that providing movies online and downloading them or saving them in any way is illegal.
The problem that leads to the enormous use of online streams is, according to Andreas on hotbrowser.de that Pay-TV channels and tickets for the movies are too expensive; if the providers would reduce the prices a little, users of sites like kino.to would not be that tempted anymore to do it, particularly since the quality mostly is not the best.
I think that regular users of kino.to will look for alternatives and will find many, since most users do not really expect punishment. For the providers of such portals, the arrests might be a signal, and possibly the offer will be reduced in the future. However, in my opinion they will always find a way to provide movies online, since the internet is growing and changing so fast, and the tracing cannot really keep up with it.