Where to Find Free Movies Online Legally
Free Movies, Legally
Free movies don’t have the lure that they once did. Netflix has put an entire catalogue of movies at your fingertips for a few dollars per month. You can also buy them on iTunes for very little money and there are other, legally questionable, ways of getting movies that I won’t go into here.
If none of those methods work for you though, or if you’re looking for something a little outside the norm, there are large collections of movies online that you can watch legally and for free. In some cases you can even download copies to watch whenever you like.
Some of the films that are available for free are in the public domain now. That means that the copyright has expired or has not been renewed and they don’t belong to anyone anymore. Other films are available because the web site they are hosted on has acquired permission to show them and still others are being made available for free because they haven’t found a distributor yet and the filmmakers really want people to see them.
So, if you’re looking for a little free entertainment this evening or if you’re looking for something obscure that none of your friends have seen, here are some sites to get you started on your search.
Archive.org is the internets depository of free stuff. In addition to mountains of free ebooks, music, news stories, software and video games the site hosts more than 1.5 million free video files. This includes cartoons, documentaries, television programs, recordings of historical events and artistic performances and almost 4,000 feature films. All of this can be streamed or downloaded in a variety of formats, legally and for free.
Snag Films is a great source for indie films. Many of the films presented on the site won multiple festival awards but haven’t really found an audience yet. The site currently hosts thousands of films and they are all presented for free. The website also offers social features that allow you to discuss the films and share your opinions with other site users.
YouTube is a great source for free films. Many of the films on the site are older or are independent but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t good. There are also some films on YouTube that are legally questionable, by which I mean that I’m not sure if they are supposed to be free on YouTube. However, Google (the parent company of YouTube) gets 2.5 million requests per week to remove content that might infringe copyright. It’s safe to assume that if something isn’t supposed to be on YouTube, it won’t be there for long. Go ahead and watch what you like and let Google worry about the legality.
Open Culture is a great resource for free stuff online. They have a list of 625 films that are available for free online. None of those films are hosted on Open Culture, they are primarily hosted by Archive.org and YouTube but if you’d like a list of suggestions, without searching on your own it’s a really good place to start.
Top Documentary Films
Top Documentary Films is just what it sounds like. If you’re interested in documentaries and educational programming there are thousands listed here that you can watch for free. Just about any category you might be interested in is covered, including science, history, politics, health, economics, crime, biographies and the arts. So, if you’re interested in the history of World War II, learning more about a foreign country or the history of Cage Fighting in the USA you might want to pay them a visit. For even more documentaries, try Documentary Tube and Documentary.net.
Public Domain Torrents
Public Domain Torrents is a torrent site that doesn’t break the law. The site bills its offerings as “Movies that made history … sort of …” In total there are 900+ classic and B movies that you can legally download for free using your torrent program. These include comedies, dramas, martial arts films, cartoons, horror, sci fi and more. If you’re up for ‘Attack of the Giant Leeches’, ‘Hercules Against the Moonmen’, ‘Carnival of Souls’ and ‘Jesse James Meets Frankensteins Daughter’, head over to Public Domain Torrents and start downloading.
A Final Note
You won’t find recent Oscar winners on these sites. They aren’t the films that people will be talking about around the watercooler tomorrow but some of them were Oscar winners and the stuff of water cooler conversations many decades ago. They are indie films that never found a home, documentaries presented by people passionate about their subjects and the stuff of late night drive ins and saturday afternoon matinees when motion pictures were the height of technology and families gathered around the radio for home entertainment.