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Every other day we have a few dozen of sites popping up promoting free TV Shows and Movie links. Some call such sites illegal, other say that there is nothing wrong with such sites as long as the content isn’t hosted on their servers. Regardless, we wanted to talk to the top 5 such sites and ask developers a few questions.

  • 1. SurfTheChannel.com
  • 2. Joox.net
  • 3. Sidereel.com
  • 4. QuickSilverScreen.com
  • 5. Alluc.org

So lets take a look at them ….

(1) SurfTheChannel

SurfTheChannel

Videos online: 53908
Members: 24,586
Creation date: November 2007

STC has risen from nowhere and became a good resource in just 2 months. The site now boasts over 50k movies and shows with around 500 new ones added every day. Most episodes that air in the US appear on the site within a couple hours and the latest movies hit the site as soon as they show in theatres.

The site design is very reminiscent of the old TV Links with a simple 1 page listing for Movies, TV, Anime, Music Videos, Documentaries & Indie TV. This makes it very easy to scroll down a category and see what’s on offer.

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As with any site like this dead links are an issue however STC claims to have automatic monitoring system and an active mod team to ensure that dead videos are kept down to a minimum. The interafce is updated regularly with new treats each time, for instance latest version allows users to switch between the classic skin and a black Stage6 inspired skin. MakeUseOf caught up with STC’s Director Of Operations Coco Lambucca for a chat:

MUO: You’ve become quite a rising star in 2 months. What’s the secret?

STC: STC’s community and staff is the reason for its success. From the hard working Link Hunters, Mods and Admin right down to the normal members. Everyone plays a part, if a user wants some sort of new functionality in we’ll try and make it happen. Without our community we would just be another soulless link site that are so common nowadays.

MUO: Worried about copyright?

STC: Funny you should ask that, we’ve just received a letter demanding we take down a network’s shows or face 5 months in prison and $1,000,000 fine. I could repeat the worn out mantra that we don’t host the files they are on YouTube, Stage6 etc but I think anyone who is familiar with this model knows the arguments for and against. We are careful to abide the laws of our country which is Sweden and have a zero removal policy for our listings.

MUO: So how do you see STC and sites like it in the future?

STC: I think a tipping point is approaching in the world of online media and the networks are coming round to the idea that new delivery mechanisms are needed. People want to watch what they want, when they want it. They also do not want to pay in the traditional subscription sense but accept that a pre-roll ad or popup is an acceptable trade off for their “All the time, any time” needs. This is a massive untapped revenue stream that the content owners are missing out on because they’re still trying to control users with antiquated rights management systems. They desperately need to re-engage with their customers. I would like to think that there are some forward thinking companies out there who understand the possibilities open to them by working with us in a collaborative way and we have been reaching out via mutual contacts to see what can be accomplished. Early indications are encouraging.

MUO: Any downsides to running a site like this?

STC: Apart from the lack of sleep, high stress levels, hostile lawyers and jealous rivals slandering us on other sites? Nope no downsides at all :p.

Good luck to STC, we think they have something special going on and have a great community to boot.

(2) Joox.net

Joox - Watch Movies Online

Videos online: 15,383
Members: 241,488
Creation date: May 2007

Joox’s sleek black design is an instant hit when you visit. The site has minimal advertising and currently uses just Stage6 videos (which guarantees good video quality). It’s fast, simple and very popular. Built and administrated by 1 person, moderated by a volunteer staff of 16. This site is a gem that is sure to rise even more. We managed to pull admin Christoffer away from his keyboard for some words:

MUO: Other sites have varying views on the legality of their sites, what’s your take?

Joox: Well, I’ll be following the trial against [NO LONGER WORKS] The Pirate Bay that’s about to start here in Sweden right now. And if they find them guilty of committing some crime by providing “links” to copyrighted materials (their words not mine), then maybe I’ll move the hosting to Asia or something. I wouldn’t shut the site down unless I have no choice or they nuke my server :P.

MUO: Do you have a removal policy?

Joox: Well, I don’t host anything, so I could only remove my links to the content not the content itself. I’ve got 2 warning emails so far and by the time I read them, stage6 had already taken down both movies in question. If I go to trial I might say that I have, but in reality, no there is not much point.

MUO: So what can we expect for the future from Joox?

Joox: I plan on adding lots of features like grouping different videos when there’s more than one part to a movie, adding IMDB info and DVD covers to the video pages and also allowing other sources then stage6 for the Divx files. Our members have given me lots of ideas on the forum.

MUO: Are there any sites like Joox that you like yourself?

Joox: I’ve never liked any other sites besides the now dead TV Links (which I discovered after I made Joox), I liked them because they included much more content, sometimes when your desperate you don’t care if it’s a flash video. ;). I don’t visit any of the current video link sites as most have bad designs, lots of ads (I try to keep the amount of ads to a minimum on Joox, only what’s needed for my hosting costs) and most of them steal Joox video links.

Joox is the site that everyone names as their favourite and that’s down to their no-nonsense design and simplicity done well. Everyone will always choose quality videos over flash if they have the choice and Joox has an abundance of top quality content that is sure to satisfy anyone.

(3) QuickSilverScreen

QuickSilverScreen - Stream Movies, TV Shows and Documentaries

Videos online: 8238
Members: 244,160
Creation date: 2004

QuickSilverScreen or QSS as it’s followers call it has one of the busiest communities out of all 5 sites reviewed. They are a friendly bunch of people who have a real sense of fun buzzing about the place. The site itself consists of Stage6 videos of which they have a nice selection. The staff consists of 3 forum admins, 1 server admin, 13 mods and 10 or so chat mods.

When asked if they are worried about copyright issues the resounding answer was a “No!” from admin “The Tsar”. He went on to say “we don’t host or distribute any copyrighted content what so ever. If anyone at all should be worried, it’s the guys like stage6 who rely on hosting and distrusting copyrighted content for profit. We remove videos if they are porn, racist or bigoted and that’s it.”.

MUO: What’s in store for the future?
QSS: Lots more movies, TV shows and documentaries!

MUO: Do you like/use any of your rival sites?
QSS: Joox and only banned. Original idea and they didn’t spam everywhere to get where they are. Also the site is clean and easy to use.

(4) Sidereel

Sidereel

Videos online: 153781
Members: 25656
Creation date: February 2007

Sidereel has a great design, nice graphics and feels user friendly however it suffers from trying to be all things to all people. It uses a “framer” style where rather than show the videos on their pages they frame the source site’s video page, this unfortunately has a distracting effect when trying to watch a video unless you make the video go full screen (which then means that resolution is usually bad). Plus some pages have lots of informations and thus look overwhelming. However, if you get used to it you’ll be definitely visitng it again and again. Unlike other sites, Sidereel also lists links to trailers and DVD stores (Netflix, Amazon etc) which can be a bit frustrating.

The negative points aside this site is definitely one to watch, based out of San Francisco it’s likely it has some decent financial backing however it’s servers are located on Leaseweb’s network in the Netherlands so they could run into trouble if BREIN (Entertainment Industry Rights Protection) asks Leaseweb (their hosting company) to shut them down. Leaseweb were co-operative with Dutch authorities over the TV-Links take down. No reply from Sidereel to our request for a few words.

(5) Alluc

Alluc

Videos online: 86133
Members: unknown
Creation date: November 2006

One of the oldest link sites around. Alluc (pronounced “all you see”) does not play videos on its own pages but supplies links to the original page where the video is hosted. It has a thriving community but gets a lot of flak for its layout and design which can be rather jumbled and messy at times. Dead links are kept relatively low as the community flags any for removal pretty quickly. There are some real gems to be found but for new shows and movies they seem to way behind the other sites. A quick search shows only 2 episodes of The Simpsons as opposed to SurfTheChannel’s 334 episodes.

Alluc did not reply to our requests for a quick chat so unfortunately no insight into the heads of the people who run this legendary site. They have recently removed 1000 of their movies at the request of the MPAA (Motion Pictures Assosciation of America) which could set a dangerous precedent for the future for them.

So that’s it! Share your opinion and criticism in comments.

  1. Tom
    February 5, 2008 at 8:41 am

    Actually, these sites are more akin to Google in legality. Do you think Google is hosting every site on the internet? It's just links, and these sites are just specialized to find videos.

  2. rob
    February 5, 2008 at 7:18 am

    Saying this [providing links] is illegal is as ridiculous as saying, 'it's illegal to tell someone how to rob a bank' it's not!

  3. jane
    February 4, 2008 at 10:33 pm

    yeah i like tvshack.net best why isn't that here!

    • Aibek
      February 5, 2008 at 8:24 am

      Because the ones above are better

  4. Sonny Chiba
    February 4, 2008 at 9:56 pm

    I don't think they will be online soon, as I can hear MPAA will pay much more attention on streaming sites in 2008. I like the idea of one of the first embeded movies sites - freemoviescinema.com They put fan films or free movies that producers put online. It can be fun to see some ideas and see what amateurs and small productions are doing. Comments are sometimes full of anger for not having blockbuster titles, but it all has its charm regarding sitest tagline - Celebrating Movie Diversity.

  5. KodyFox
    February 4, 2008 at 7:55 pm

    okay.. i honestly think that QSS should be #! it is by far the best movie site out there, harldy any ads at all there is actually ONE on every page.. only ONE SINGLE ad. so yea QSS is the bomb

  6. Christoffer
    February 4, 2008 at 7:47 am

    Well my members do hard work when collecting the links. It shouldn't be suprising that I'm not happy about people running scripts to automaticly add all joox videos to their sites and later spam about it in joox.net's video comments and on the forums. I'm glad this article didn't include any of those sites.

  7. Vince
    February 3, 2008 at 5:20 pm

    Nice review and comparison. Alluc has gone downhill lately and I hadn't even heard of surfthechannel before now :o, I cant believe it remained under my radar with it climb in alexa rankings.

    Anyway, there is a case against the legality of these sites, but only because the corporations have molded the law to suit what they view as "unrightful use" of their content. When will they learn that these sites make their content more globally recognized. Money is not made from static shows, but the advertising that pad them. FOX etc could easily use sites like these to pedal their stuff to wider audiences, with ads included.

  8. cougarshero
    February 3, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    Actually these sites are legal in the countries they are based in. Morally they may be wrong but legally they are fine....until the all powerful MPAA has the laws changed in the relevant countries.

    Also the copyrighted material you speak of is hosted on sites such as YouTube so you better boycott them before you add to the problem.

    You could also argue that UK users of these sites who view shows originating from the UK have every right to wacth them as they have paid their license fee already and paid for all of the programmes.

    It isnt such a clear black and white line as you think it is.

  9. Tom
    February 3, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    Um, Aibek... none of these sites are legal. They all link to copyrighted material and in no way reimburse the content owners for their hard work. Does makeusof.com think this is right?

    I find it particularly ironic that the Joox creator whines about other sites stealing his video links.

    • Aibek
      February 3, 2008 at 4:21 pm

      Hi Tom, let me put this way, MUO reviews everything what is popular. When it comes to above websites in particular, they are not illegal, but the places they link to.

      All of these websites are extremely popular and operate either in Europe or United States so there is no way they would stay online if authorities considered their activities illegal.