Say, I pay for a broadcasting service, and lets say due some circumstances I miss it.

Does the original copyright (or the fact that it allowed me to watch it), allow me to source the content elsewhere?

I in no way am sharing the content that was aquired elsewhere.

Edit: Likely I will watch it one time and delete it afterwards.

Edit: I know the alternative source is infringing copyright. But does that have any effect on me?

  • 14
    I bought a movie ticket for yesterday night's screening but couldn't go to the movie theater. Can I go tonight? Is it OK to go to another movie theater?
    – Taladris
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 13:48
  • On a more practical note, many television networks will allow you to stream content if you can provide valid login information for a broadcasting service.
    – David K
    Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 12:33

3 Answers 3



This is not a copyright issue as you are not making a copy (save for a transient one in your cache which is allowed). You are allowed to record it for personal time-shifting as that is fair use/dealing.

The broadcaster either owns the copyright (unlikely) or has a contract with the copyright holder that allows them to broadcast it. Assuming the broadcaster chooses or is not permitted to subsequently stream it, if you miss it, you miss it. Your contract with the broadcaster is over. Their obligation was to make the broadcast available to you, yours was to pay for it - nobody is obliged to watch it.

You can, of course, seek the content from any other legal sources, complying with their terms including payment if necessary.

  • Thanks, this makes a lot more sense to me.
    – leppie
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 5:31
  • 2
    This also (as a matter of course) applies backwards. If you watched the broadcast, you are not obliged to pay for it if you have not already. You are obliged to pay if and only if you made a contract with the broadcaster. Subsequently it will of course not be illegal to acquire a copy and watch that - if the acquisition was not illegal in itself (burglary, etc)
    – Stian
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 5:51
  • Note that in some countries downloading pirated content for personal use is legal. Then OP could do this regardless of the original payment. Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 20:58

No, you may not legally get the content elsewhere: that is a violation of copyright law. When I create content that I want money for, I negotiate with a distributor such as TW, and I grant TW a license to make my stuff available. The license can have all sorts of terms in it, for example conditions on where and when it can be distributed, and how much TW must pay me per user. Such content usually has some requirement of keeping track of how many viewers there are. TW gets permission to copy my stuff in exchange for something valuable – we have a contract.

I have no contract with you. You have a contract with TW. Your contract with TW may allow you to watch the stuff once, or any number of times between certain times. TW cannot grant you the right to watch stuff that some other party also happens to make available (be it legally or illegally). Your right to watch at the scheduled time depends on a chain of rightful permissions, where TW can legally distribute because of their contract with me, and you can legally watch on TW because of your contract with them. The pirate source has no legal right to my stuff, so you cannot gain a legal right to my stuff from them.

Also FYI in the US there is no legal defense "I didn't know that the pirate source was distributing illegally" (known as "innocent infringement").

  • 2
    I'm not sure this is correct, given the reasoning of the time-shifting cases.
    – bdb484
    Commented Sep 29, 2019 at 17:55
  • 10
    You paid for a package of gum from Target but forgot to put it in your bag. So you went to Kmart and took that same type of gum because you paid for it. Commented Sep 29, 2019 at 19:39
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    @GeorgeWhite Thats a bad argument, because copyright infringement is not theft.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Sep 29, 2019 at 20:50
  • 12
    @leppie you did get what you paid for. You were able to watch at the time it was broadcast. They didn't fail to make it available, you failed to watch it, which is your problem, not TWs.
    – Andy
    Commented Sep 29, 2019 at 23:14
  • 2
    @leppie "Honestly, from a copyright point of view, I have the right to watch it as I have paid for it. [...] The right to watch/consume the content was given given to me from a legitimate copyright holder." - Nope, you're misunderstanding copyright law rather substantially. To use a physical analogy, me purchasing a Pepsi from McDonalds and failing to drink it, doesn't give me permission to walk into BurgerKing and take a Pepsi, even if both stores had an infinite supply of Pepsi. It does sucks when you pay for something, and life gets in the way and you don't get your money's worth.
    – Jamin Grey
    Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 3:08

Does the original copyright (or the fact that it allowed me to watch it), allow me to source the content elsewhere?

No. Because copyright does not allow you to watch anything. Copyright is a prohibition on making unauthorized copies, not a right to do anything.

  • Hey David, I think that you are right, but debate about copyright is complicated and controversial: it could help if you could elaborate, or your answer runs the risk of being downvoted a lot (not by me) Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 8:36
  • @MarioTrucco I'm not debating anything, and there's no controversy about what copyright is, merely about whether that thing is desirable. I don't really see anything to add, beyond duplicating what's already in the other answers. Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 8:37
  • Ok.. In my experience though, I see a lot of confusion and misunderstanding about copyright matters. See for instance law.stackexchange.com/questions/2223/… Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 8:41
  • @MarioTrucco My answer was specifically aimed at addressing a confusion and misunderstanding about copyright that's present in this question. Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 8:43
  • i cheerfully upvoted it, as it gets to the crux of the matter. Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 15:50

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