I'm living in a Germany and I'm a huge fan of tv shows. When I watch some tv shows on ABC, CW, Hulu, Netflix I'm using a VPN to pretend I reside in USA, sometimes I use virtual prepaid card to mimic USA residency.

Why I'm not using local German streaming services? Lots of reasons:

  • Content is not available in english language (only german)
  • Content is not available at all
  • Content is drasctically overpriced. For example Good Doctor now is available on Hulu, but in Germany only choice is to buy it on Amazon, which takes 20 Euro for a season, which is not acceptable at all.
  • German services software is notorious for being buggy as hell, and in my experience it doesn't work well most of the time. SkyTicket for example, it just doesn't work with my Chromecast no matter what.

My question: is it illegal to overpass content region locks using VPN and other technical tools? On one hand, it's not a clear piracy, because I'm still paying for content to right holders, just in another country. On the other hand, I'm getting content, which I have no legal execuse to get, and it could look like violating of copyright laws, which quite strict in Germany.

  • It might technically be piracy, even if you pay. That's just the question here, right? The two questions are if you are breaking a criminal law and if you are breaking the terms of a civil, commercial contract.
    – o.m.
    Nov 15, 2020 at 13:01
  • Also, your motivation for wanting to use US streaming sites is irrelevant. You should delete that part of the question and focus on the relevant parts.
    – o.m.
    Nov 15, 2020 at 13:02
  • @o.m. Yeah, sorry for bad wording. With "technically not a piracy" I meant that is not a clear piracy situation, like downloading from torrents for free. And I want to keep reasons, because it shows possible motivation, like financial profit (less spending), overcoming technical diffuculties or it's just no other way there. Could be relevant in law case. Nov 15, 2020 at 14:53
  • A typical sample is: Babylon Berlin (a co-production of german public television station ARD and Sky), where the broadcast rights (for a certain time) in Germany belongs to another company. First broadcast by Sky in October 2017 and one year later by the public television station ARD in Germany. Outside Germay available since January 2018 in Netflix. Nov 15, 2020 at 18:55

1 Answer 1


The only case where you might have a legal excuse is if you cannot get the same content in Germany at all by paying for it. If for example "Good Doctor" is indeed available in Germany for a price that you feel is too high, your two legal choices are to pay the high price for it, or not to watch it at all.

(No idea what the legal situation is today for content that you cannot get legally in Germany).

  • 1
    Depends: Some content is decidedly illegal in Germany. A random example:The software KZ Manager is illegal in Germany, it was declared to be „Verherrlichung der NS-Ideologie & Rassenhass“, any copies that could be found have been seized. ANY form of Distribution is illegal.
    – Trish
    Dec 15, 2020 at 16:21
  • @Trish I thought more about things that are just not offered for sale in Germany, because nobody things they can make money selling it.
    – gnasher729
    Apr 27, 2022 at 21:40

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