Is Plex Legal?

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You may have heard of Plex, a streaming service where you can watch movies and TV shows. Available on most major devices, Plex comes with a library of content of old TV shows and movies but also allows you to import files from your own server to be streamed on the Plex platform.

There has been some debate about whether Plex is legal. If you’re one of the people wondering how legal the streaming service really is, look no further.

What Is Plex?

Most of the confusion surrounding Plex’s legality largely comes from confusion as to what the service actually is. Plex offers a free client app that’s available on most devices, including gaming consoles, smart TVs, phones, tablets, and more. It’s also a free media server where you can store your different files on a PC, Mac, or NAS drive.

There are differences between the two functions, which is likely to be where the confusion is coming from.

Plex Server-Side Media Server

The server side of Plex is completely legal, even if you’re dubious about how Plex has access to so much free content. There is a wide amount of movies and TV shows available, but these are generally old and/or obscure.

You can use the server-side content simply by logging into the app and then hitting play on whatever you want to watch. Think of this portion of the app as being the same as other streaming services such as Amazon Prime Video or Disney+; you get the idea. Make sure you’re aware of the tips and tricks of Plex to get the most out of it.

Plex Client-Side Media Server

The client-side media server is, essentially, a place to store all of the media you’ve accumulated over the years. Think back to before streaming services, when people often had their own collection of movies and TV shows. They’d either have them physically, with shelves littered with DVDs, or they’d rip them onto a USB stick and have them digitally on their computer.

With streaming services, this practice became less desirable since you can just pay a subscription fee and get essentially the same benefit. However, the downside to using Netflix or Disney+ or any of the best streaming services is that titles can suddenly be taken off the platform.

With your own media server, you can curate it so that it only has the media you want to watch and can never be taken off the server without you knowing about it. You also don’t have to worry about buffering or compression, as it is a downloaded file and thus non-reliant on an internet connection.

The ability to store all of your favorite media onto a Plex media server, coupled with its syncing-between-devices functionality, makes it a huge draw for users. There are many features that make Plex the perfect media streaming platform for you and your friends.

A black flag with a white skull and crossbones

Now that you know what the server-side and client-side versions of Plex offer, you’ll want to know how it could be illegal. Chances are you already have an idea.

Plex itself is legal, but how you use it may not be. Just like you can put media that you’ve ripped onto USB sticks onto the client-side media server, you could just as easily do that with torrented files and media you’ve illegally downloaded using other methods. Because Plex is not a peer-to-peer media sharing platform, it’s low-profile enough to where you wouldn’t likely get caught. Note: it isn’t impossible you won’t get caught, but it’s unlikely.

It’s also a gray area whether you’re even allowed to rip a Blu-ray and then put it on a media server since it could technically fall into ‘misuse’ territory. The enforceability of those laws is complicated and murky.

Plex itself is completely legal and isn’t breaking any laws. However, there are ways in which you could be using the service illegally. The low-profile nature of Plex as well as the sheer functionality it offers, makes it a great platform for people who are looking to share out illegally-acquired media with their friends.

As you probably already know, piracy has many legal consequences, so you should be careful with how you use Plex. On the bright side, you’ll be blown away by Plex’s many features, and there’s a good chance you’ll only need the free version to make the most of the platform.

Is Plex Legal?

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