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How Do I Watch Independent Films Online?

By Gregory Hanson
Updated May 17, 2024
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The growth of the Internet has made it much easier to find and view independent films. Several corporate services offer access to independent films online for a subscription fee. Organizations and endowments often sponsor this kind of limited release film as well and may provide online access to films with which they were involved. Some directors and producers of independent films offer free or inexpensive access to their work on the Internet, and some older films may have been released into the public domain.

Streaming video and digital video sales are both very lucrative businesses in the modern world. Independent movies may not collect the same amount of money as blockbusters, but their sale and online rental remain lucrative. Most nations have at least one online retailer specializing in offering access to streaming video, and these retailers usually provide access to a large number of independent films online. A typical service requires a monthly fee for access or may offer access on a pay-per-view basis for individual films. Some subscription video and cable services also offer access to independent films online, typically though their associated websites.

Other corporations make a profit by selling digital copies of films via the Internet. These firms generally charge a fixed price for the rights to download a copy of a film and sometimes include the right to download that film again if at any point it is lost from the computer on which it was stored. Some firms may embed digital rights management software into a downloaded independent film to ensure that it is not used illegally.

Non-commercial ways to watch independent films online exist as well. Public television systems, governments, art boards, and other organizations often sponsor the creation of independent films. These agencies frequently offer free or inexpensive online access to films produced with their assistance. They may also partner with the directors or producers of independent films in order to increase the visibility of new films.

Many independent films are made available for free by their creators, who may or may not solicit donations in support of their work. No single process exists to locate these independent films online, but a web search will often turn up information on a director, writer, or producer of a film, allowing a film to be tracked down successfully. Smaller and more obscure works are especially likely to be distributed in this fashion. Some foreign and older films may no longer be under copyright protection and might simply be available on major streaming video websites.

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Discussion Comments

By TreeMan — On Jun 24, 2012
@cardsfan27 - You are correct, and that is why there are a lot of older films on sites like YouTube.

Really I feel like it is a lot easier to view films than what people think and depending on ones virus protection on their computer I feel like that most of the time it is as simply as typing the movie into a search engine and just looking for a site that streams it.

One could always risk getting in trouble for illegally watching the movie, but most of the time this will not occur, as it usually pretty obvious to the user if they are watching it on a site that they should not be on.

That being said I am wondering if there are site out there besides a popular one like Netflix that one can go to see a collection of independent films. I am sure there are some out there, but without the movies having a mainstream label it could get somewhat difficult to find publicity or sites that carry the films.

By cardsfan27 — On Jun 24, 2012
@jmc88 - You're right to be cautious. Because of the amount of privacy, anymore these creators will simply upload their videos for free, unless of course they are running a site that requires a fee in order to view things on the site outside of maybe a short preview.

Despite these types of sites being out there I am finding them less and less frequent as it seems to be a losing battle as far as uploading goes and more and more people are putting their work online for free as opposed to trying to make money off of it.

As far as other films go, like say films that are not mainstream, one may want to look at independent movie sites out there that may give clues as to where one may go in order to view the said film.

Like the article said there is a good chance that older films have had their copyright expire and when this is done fair use comes into play and anyone can do whatever they wish as far as viewing the film.

By jmc88 — On Jun 23, 2012

@JimmyT - That is true, but in reality it depends exactly what you are watching.

If one were to go to a site that requires downloading they could potentially get in trouble for doing such a thing, but if they were to go to a place like YouTube, where it was illegally downloaded, the person will not get in trouble for watching it. The only person that will get in trouble is the one that uploaded it on the site to begin with without the creator's permission.

I usually use the strategy of not watching something I have to download unless it is directly affiliated with the people that created the video. This ensures that I am watching the video honestly and not really doing anything wrong or taking anything away from the creators.

By JimmyT — On Jun 23, 2012

I guess as far as independent films go it depends exactly what types of films they are.

What I think of when I think of independent films is not necessarily a movie or even a short that has a story arc. I think that it can include short little videos that people make and just put online.

That being said these types of videos are usually never a problem to watch and even as far as full length films go it is usually pretty easy to go ahead and watch them online, unless it is at a site that requires money to watch.

Anymore with online piracy these types of films that require money are getting less and less frequent, due to how easy it is to steal someone else's work and upload it online for free for others to look at.

When this is done it could put a lot of people in trouble for viewing it as I have heard horror stories of people being prosecuted just for watching these types of films that were illegally downloaded.

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