7 Legal Ways To Watch Movies Online For Free

Joel Lee 24-06-2013

watch movies onlineWith the advent of the Internet, media delivery has become so easy and so convenient for us. It started with music but quickly moved to include TV shows and feature-length films, and in the wake of Napster illegal piracy has skyrocketed. But what can you do if you want to watch movies online while staying within the confines of the law?


It’s quite telling that the question isn’t “How can I watch movies online?” but rather “How can I watch movies online legally?” We all want to do it but the producers have made it so difficult for us. And while you won’t be able to legally watch the latest Iron Man online for many years to come, there are places where you can watch full feature films without fear of repercussions.

Open Culture

watch movies online

Open Culture is a dedicated web hub for free media related to culture and education. Yes, they have a repository of over 500 free movies spanning genres like Classic, Indie, Noir, Western, etc., but they also have tons of free audio books Stream & Listen To Free Audiobooks In Your Browser At AudioLiterate Listen to public domain audiobooks in your browser, then download the ones you like. If you're looking to reacquaint yourself with the classics, AudioLiterate is a great site to check out and browse. There's something... Read More , ebooks, online courses, and other such things.

If you want to use Open Culture for free movies, though, you’ll need to have the right expectations. 99% of their free films are old. Like, really old. I’m talking about a 1910s-to-1980s time range. There are a couple of films that were released in the 1990s and even 2000s, but even those have some sort of cultural or educational merit to them. You won’t find any summer blockbusters here.

Public Domain Torrents

watch movies online


Downloading torrents is one of the primary modes of illegal piracy, but Public Domain Torrents has flipped that around to use the BitTorrent protocol The Torrent Guide for Everyone This beginner's guide is a great introduction to peer-to-peer file sharing with BitTorrent. Get started with torrent downloading in a safe and responsible way with our tips here. Read More in its proper context. Public Domain Torrents is a collection of nearly 1,000 different torrents for movies that have impacted history and remain in the public domain – in other words, legally free.

In order for movies to be in the public domain, their copyrights and intellectual property ownerships have to expire, which means that most of the movies on Public Domain Torrents are going to be pretty old. However, if you’re into older movies that have earned merit over the years and deserve to be watched, this site will do you well.

All of the movies on this site come in DVD quality AVIs, but some have alternate formats that are optimized for iPods, Zunes, PSPs, and PDAs.


watch free movies online


Hulu has been around for a while now and they’re one of the more popular video streaming sites on the Internet to watch movies online. Unfortunately, my personal experience with their service hasn’t been amazing – not too shabby, but nothing spectacular – even with extensions that aim to improve the Hulu experience. Their free movie section feels about the same in that regard.

Hulu movies are split into 4 categories: Trailers, Documentaries, Genres, and Staff Picks. They have a few movies in their database that are worth the watch (Primer, Highlander, Ip Man) but the majority of them are lesser known films that you likely haven’t heard of. But if you find a movie on Hulu that you want to watch, great!


watch free movies online

Crackle is all about on-demand feature-length film access that’s available for free to anyone and everyone. Their movie selection is hand-picked and includes movies and TV shows that span multiple genres including action, science fiction, horror, crime, and comedy. All of their movies are presented in their original uncut and unedited versions.


They don’t have the largest selection by any means but I’m impressed by the selection they do have. Right away, I see great movies like Stranger Than Fiction and Kung Fu Hustle in the list and that gives me hope that the remaining movies that I haven’t heard about will be good watches. As a bonus, they have a free Crackle app Crackle: An App For Free Movies & TV Shows (And It's Completely Legal) The iPhone – as small as it is – can be a great platform for watching video on the go or while out of the house. However, most videos available for the little device are... Read More so you can watch the movies anywhere on your mobile device.

Watch Documentary / Top Documentary Films

watch free movies online

It makes the most sense for documentary films to be the most freely available movie type on the Internet. After all, those films aren’t primarily made for profit but to get a message out to the public. It’s no surprise, then, that Watch Documentary has over 7600 free documentaries and Top Documentary Films has thousands of free documentaries available for you to watch.

I grouped these two sites into the same section because they both serve the same purpose: free documentary films only. Honestly, documentaries can be more entertaining and fulfilling than any blockbuster film out there – the only issue is finding the ones that will interest you. Thankfully, with these two sites, you can both find them and watch them legally without paying a cent.



watch movies online

If you’ve gotten this far in hopes of finding a free version of Netflix where you can watch a huge selection of high-quality films, you’re probably disappointed. But, hey, films cost money to make and it’ll be a long time before a sustainable business model comes around that could support a “free Netflix” so to speak.

In the meantime, your itch may be satisfied through YouTube’s free movies channel which does have a number of mainstream films like Snatch, The Fifth Element, Mr. Deeds, and Panic Room, though a lot of the movies on that channel are lower list films that never saw theatrical releases.


Unfortunately, if you want to watch movies online legally, you don’t have many avenues that will satisfy you unless you’re specifically looking for documentary-type films. It’s easy to see why illegal piracy is such a big force right now and hopefully we’ll start to see some more free and legal Internet channels in the coming future.

If you got this far and realize that you’re willing to shell out a tiny bit of cash for the convenience of streaming high quality movies, Netflix is an affordable and recommended alternative that could be the solution to Internet movie piracy Is Netflix The Solution to Video Piracy? [Opinion] Netflix recently launched in the UK - and I wrote up a full and shining review of the service last time. It offers an affordable way to get high quality on-demand movies and TV straight... Read More .

Image Credit: Theater Viewers Via Shutterstock

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  1. James
    February 10, 2017 at 5:33 am

    With few exceptions, ''child pornography being an obvious one'' it should be legal to watch any movie that is available on the net. Why do I hold this opinion; you
    ask ? My answer is simple; because the viewer pays for internet service and generally speaking, the viewer owns the darn computer ! Why else pay for a computer and internet service, if you are not going to be able to legally enjoy the benefits made possible by these technologies ? It is not as if, internet service, has any value aside from the information capable of being transmitted over the internet. Furthermore; as for copyright laws, the art of film making, film makers music, musicians and compensation for these artists. There once was a time when art was practiced for the sake of art, and the intangible benefits provided to society by the arts. While it is good for a government to promote the arts; and the artists; government promotion of the same should be done in such a way as to make the arts available to all members of society, regardless of financial status. Laws created for the sake of allowing artists to accrue great wealth; at the expense of prohibiting any given person, at any given time, from enjoying the art, due to a lack of funds; are contrary to the true value of the arts, and the purpose of government promotion of the arts ! We desperately need to ask ourselves and ''our'' government; whether or not every aspect of our lives should hinge upon money, or; more specifically whether or not we have enough money to engage in any given activity at any given moment. It boils down to this; if nothing is allowed to be free in life; then we do not live freely. It really is; that simple.

  2. Awsm dude
    May 16, 2015 at 3:31 am

    U can download or watch new movies that just came out in theatrs for free and evn download music thas also new . The sites calld gingle. U have to type in this article is a good one too.

  3. Billy
    March 14, 2015 at 8:11 am

    I'm currently a contributor for Fox Archive. We're collecting public domain classic movies what everyone can watch for free legally. Please, take a look: ;)

  4. mohammad asif
    October 2, 2013 at 2:36 pm

    vidio s

  5. dogfriend
    August 21, 2013 at 5:22 pm

    New one for legal hidden movies on youtube: [Broken Link Removed]

  6. Darren R
    July 1, 2013 at 8:17 pm

    TVCatchup is also a great site for watching free to view live tv.

  7. Clyde Atwood
    June 29, 2013 at 3:12 am

    I love documentaries!!! You learn something and get entertainment at the same time!!!

    • Joel L
      July 1, 2013 at 3:09 pm

      I agree. Documentaries are actually a lot of fun. :)

  8. mubi
    June 27, 2013 at 6:36 am

    for polish speaking people recently 2 film studios released some of the best classic polish movies on their yt channels:

  9. Edward Jones
    June 26, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    In the UK most terrestrial channels have online players to watch live TV and previously screened programs which includes movies.
    - ITV Player
    - BBC I Player
    - 4 On Demand

    Also good choices.

    • Joel Lee
      June 26, 2013 at 2:59 pm

      As a foreigner to the UK, those options flew under my radar. Thanks for sharing! They'll be useful for our UK readers. :)

  10. Onaje Asheber
    June 26, 2013 at 2:53 am

    Nice info!

  11. David Moreira
    June 25, 2013 at 9:07 am

    LegalTorrents might also be a good choice.

    • Joel Lee
      June 25, 2013 at 5:12 pm

      Yes, good call!