123movies and GoStream are best known for two things: being the free movie website network that 98 million users take advantage of monthly; and being the free movie website network that has been repeatedly assaulted and removed from the Internet by various international governments, ambassadors, and agencies. Though plenty of free streaming sites have undergone their own legal battles, none have fought back so valiantly to remain online as the 123movie/GoStream network.
What’s The Deal?
Free movie streaming sites bring in their own money by showing advertisements either on the site or within their videos itself. However, those who don’t pay studios royalties for their streamed material are exploiting a legal loophole: as they’re not uploading and hosting the content themselves, merely acting as a gateway from another (definitely illegal) secondary website, they can show movies without paying for the rights to show them, while keeping all of the money from advertisers. As you might expect, this can make movie studios…angry, to say the least.
The Game Itself
The 123movie network first came online from Vietnam in 2015, and by 2016 was already facing mounting cries from American movie agencies to be removed for copyright infringement. In March of 2017, the American ambassador to Vietnam name-dropped the 123movie network as a website of interest to be shuttered. By March of 2018, America got its wish.
But the battle had only just begun. 123movies came back under a new domain and URL to provide their service to the world. In 2018 alone, clones and copycat websites popped up in at least eight other countries. For each website that was shut down by government agencies, two more cropped up in another country, under a new domain, with a new URL. Free movie sites such as 123movies and gostream are good for the users and website hosts, but not so much for the big movie studios missing out on their millions. And so, in a search for justice (and profits), big studios have proclaimed: Let the games begin! (Again!)