Where to find free TV on the Web

There's lots of TV programming available on the Internet if you want to pay. But did you know about these free sites?

The site claims that Graboid has the best "speed, selection and quality" and does boast a wide selection of network affiliate channels. However, according to Rob Enderle at the Enderle Group in San Jose, regional affiliates usually don't license content for broadcast outside of a geographic area because of local advertising agreements. (Graboid itself has a Legal FAQ, but the page was blank at the time of this report. It also has a Copyright Policy page. Graboid offers high-definition and other shows if you sign up for a Gold (US$12.97 per month) or Premium (US$24.97 per month) membership.

TVU

Another downloadable client, TVU provides hundreds of TV streams, most of them not recognizable network channels. You can watch Fox News, Spike and ABC News and a few affiliates, plus old science fiction movies and a few sports channels.

Both Graboid and TVU work like independent TV stations that rebroadcast streams -- they aren't actually hosting content. Still, according to Will Rodger, director of public policy at the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA) in Washington, any rebroadcasts of network shows requires a licensing agreement. "It is not OK to send programming out to the public Internet that has not been licensed for such purposes," says Rodger. "Anyone distributing entire, copyrighted works has to have the permission of the copyright holder."

"The DMCA gives the MPAA and [the Recording Industry Association of America] broad latitude over who you can hang," says Enderle. "There's an ongoing effort to legitimize network and content owner involvement in copyright over streaming."

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