What is IPTV?
First, let's get the definition of IPTV out of the way. IPTV is the abbreviation for Internet Protocol Television. So, what does that mean? That depends on who you ask. One accepted definition is:
“IPTV is defined as multimedia services such as television/video/ audio/text/graphics/data delivered over IP based networks managed to provide the required level of QoS/QoE, security, interactivity and reliability.”
Keeping it simple, it's TV over the Internet.
What are IPTV Services?
Again, depending on how technical you want to get -- I'm not going to do that; if you want all the details, use a search engine and spend the next several hours having fun -- you could call any online streaming service IPTV. I won't argue that, but the major legal services aren't generally considered IPTV services, but rather OTT (Over The Top) services.
There's another long complicated definition involved here, but for our purposes, we'll go along with the standard usage of calling Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+, and all of those familiar services OTT television, and avoid calling them IPTV services. If you want to call them IPTV services, I'm not going to call you wrong. I'm simply going to use a different term, the more common OTT.
Is IPTV Legal?
Yes, IPTV is legal. However, most services that define themselves as IPTV or IPTV services are not. How can this be? Because legal reasons.
When you create something, write something original, build something, you are entitled to the benefits of your labors. Your work and creativity are not the property of others; not the community, not the state, nor anyone, unless you choose to voluntarily donate it. If your political philosophy is different, well you know where I stand, and we won't spend time debating. Well, I won't.
Accepting that you are entitled to the fruits of your labors, that applies to others as well. Everyone, in fact. Which means that if someone builds a house, it's theirs. You don't have the right to simply move in and live there.
If someone writes a book, it's theirs. You don't have the write to print them up and sell them and keep all the money. The author has ownership rights. That usually involves a publisher to ensure this happens.
If someone makes a movie, it's theirs and you don't have the right to make it available to others without consent. That usually involves a movie studio and distributor agreements to ensure this happens.
Most of the services that identify as IPTV don't bother with going through distribution agreements. Netflix does, Hulu does, all of the legitimate services do. Services that call themselves IPTV generally don't.
Putting all that together, yes IPTV is legal, but most content from IPTV services isn't, because most IPTV services don't secure the rights to the content. They're pirates.
There are other reasons for avoiding self-identified IPTV services, to include that the software they sometimes require may contain malicious code. It could compromise your system.
There have been instances where authorities have shut down IPTV services, then turned the customer database over to the content owners, who then sued the customers for theft of services. I'm not going to debate whether or not this is proper. I'm simply passing it along so you're aware this has happened.
What to do?
I avoid using services that call themselves IPTV services. I avoid any service that requires the installation of any special software. I'm not talking about an app from the Amazon, Google, Apple, or Roku store. I'm talking about where you must download special software that lets you install other software. Doing what is commonly (though not always correctly) "jailbreaking" a device.
If you can't find the app for a service in a legitimate app store, there's usually a reason, and not a good one.
If the number of moves and TV shows is an incredibly high number for a really low price, if there are promises of the ability to watch any sporting event for free or no additional cost, if there are any promises of something that seems to good to be true, it probably is an illegal service.
For me, I think "What if I was the content owner? Would someone using this service deny me what's due to me through the contracts I've signed?" If so, then the user would be stealing. If I'm the user, I'd be stealing. That makes it an easy choice for me.
I haven't tried to make your life any more complicated than it already is. However, I did want to talk about this so that you had an idea of the things that are out there that you should avoid. Stick with the major services and you'll be okay. Use the services that have apps in the legitimate app stores and you'll be okay.
Yes, it can get complicated, but that's life. Perhaps we can all work together to help keep things simply and let you enjoy your Streaming Life.