Long before the advent of legitimate online video streaming services, torrent sites and similar platforms allowed users to download and store copies of movies and TV shows.

Building a local video library from unauthorized sources has its appeal. Even if we take the cost out of the equation, these copies are available in convenient formats that can be played on any device, over a network, and can be organized to create a Netflix-like experience using legal tools such as Plex. They can also be transported from place to place and even shared among friends.

Services like Netflix have sought to emulate some of these benefits by allowing content to be played on most devices and even downloaded for offline viewing. However, the core benefits pirates enjoy, such as maintaining permanent access to copyable DRM-free files, pose a threat to the subscription streaming model.

People want to download and keep movies and TV shows

These features are unlikely to appear on a licensed consumer service, but that doesn’t stop subscribers from wanting them. Every week, questions are posted on social media asking how to download videos from Netflix, for example, and the answers are usually the same: it’s possible, there are quality issues, and people better to seize a pirated copy torn by “professionals”. ‘.

Clearly driven by this demand, software called StreamFab has been promoted for some time now, with claims that it has the ability to download and create DRM-free 1080p MP4 files from services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO (720p is only available for new content through a DRM update), Disney+, Hulu, Paramount Plus, U-Next, Rakuten TV and even YouTube.

streamfab

It is available on Microsoft Store as a trial but becomes quite expensive if users want to cover all possible services. StreamFab All-In-One, for example, costs $259.99 for a “lifetime” license.

Whether it still works as advertised is up for debate, but there are videos showing it in action on Amazon and other platforms rapidly downloading files, rather than trying to record the screen.

streamfab netflix

In addition to meeting the important functional claims of its marketing, the big questions revolve around legality. Is it allowed to download and keep copies of movies and TV shows if you have paid a legal subscription? Do streaming services allow users to make copies and is this type of software legal?

Subscription contracts

Before we get into more serious matters, a quick look at the subscription contracts of legal streaming services provides a wealth of information. Netflix, for example, is extremely clear that it is expressly forbidden to use tools such as StreamFab to make copies.

4.6. You agree not to archive, reproduce, distribute, modify, display, perform, publish, license, create derivative works from, offer for sale or use (except as expressly permitted in these Terms of Use) the Content and information contained on or obtained from or through the Netflix Service. You also agree not to: circumvent, remove, alter, disable, degrade or thwart the content protections of the Netflix Service;

Disney’s subscription agreement is just as strict. For reasons that aren’t entirely clear, the Disney+ website also denies visitors the ability to copy and paste the text of the agreement. Yet here is the relevant section.

You agree that as a condition of your license, you will not: i. circumvent or disable any content protection system or digital rights management technology used in connection with the Disney Product; ii. copy the Disney Product (unless expressly permitted by us); iii. rebroadcast, transmit or perform the Disney Product;

There’s really no need to check deals on other platforms since a basic rule tends to apply.

If a service does not give users the ability to download and store DRM-free copies of videos as standard, the terms and conditions are guaranteed to prohibit such actions. Anyone who breaches their legal agreement with a platform is, at a minimum, in violation of applicable contract law. We have never heard of a case where someone has been taken to court, but legal documents are named as such for a reason.

Copyright and DRM

Due to geographical issues, there is no single, perfect advice when it comes to copying content for personal use. Even when such copying is permitted, there are usually restrictions, such as possessing an original copy and making a backup, or the condition of paying a royalty on blank media. That said, making a copy of anything from an illegal copy or unauthorized source is generally prohibited.

In the case of streaming services like Netflix, it is extremely clear that the license granted to the user prohibits any type of copying beyond what is expressly authorized in the subscription agreement. Any copy outside that generates an unlicensed copy which is obviously a copyright issue. All of this, however, is already skipping a beat.

All major streaming services are protected by digital rights management (DRM) tools that attempt to enforce the restrictions set out in the subscription agreement, i.e. no circumvention of content protection measures and no unlicensed copies. This means that the use of software like StreamFab is effectively prohibited by a legally binding document and also by copyright law.

The rules in the United States are particularly clear. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) contains provisions that make it illegal to circumvent technological measures used to prevent unauthorized access to copyrighted works, including movies and television shows.

This covers the decryption of an encrypted work or any other technique to “bypass, remove, disable, or alter a technological measure” without permission from the copyright holder. This applies to all the streaming services mentioned above.

The DMCA also makes it illegal to manufacture, import, supply, or traffic in any technology, product, service, device, component, or part thereof, that is “primarily designed or produced for the purpose of circumventing the protection afforded by a technological measure that effectively protects a right of the copyright holder.

Given the clarity, it’s not really necessary to point out why a tool designed to circumvent DRM and make unlicensed copies is likely to violate the above, even given the existence of a lengthy disclaimer. responsibility.

StreamFab is a progression of DVDFab

StreamFab claims to be a sub-brand of DVDFab, a popular software used to copy DVD and Blu-ray discs. Following a lawsuit filed by AACS, the decryption licensing group founded by movie studios and technology partners such as Warner Bros, Disney, Microsoft and Intel, a New York court in 2014 ordered the seizure of the domains , bank funds and DVDFab social media accounts.

The order was issued following claims by the AACS that, by providing tools to circumvent disk encryption, DVDFab violated the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provisions. In 2016, AACS told the court that DVDFab blatantly ignored its injunction and continued to conduct business as usual.

StreamFab’s “anti-piracy” measures

Finally, it goes without saying that there are risks associated with downloading copies of movies or TV shows from the Internet, but in the case of StreamFab users, things get even more complicated. Buried in a lengthy statement on the StreamFab site is a warning that content pulled from services such as Netflix can be traced back to the user – not by the streaming service but by StreamFab itself.

“Please understand that anyone who wants the same benefits, anyone who wants to do the same cool hi-res TV episodes as yourself, whether it’s a friend, co-worker or someone else on the internet, they must all have their own streaming platform accounts and licensed downloader,” it reads.

“Therefore, we have taken a step further to help anyone who wants to share content to think more carefully before deciding to do so. We have included the customer/account ID in the metadata of files extracted from streaming platforms. For our majority of users, who understand that the files are strictly for personal use, this information is of no importance since the files never leave their own personal storages.