This article was updated on 03/27 at 12:30 p.m. In the particular period that we are living in right now, the use of video streaming platforms is exploding and some Netflix subscribers may fall on TunePat software.
Wondering if this service is legal and if you can use it? The answers to these questions are in this article.
You are no doubt familiar with the offline mode of Netflix’s Android, iOS and desktop applications. For service subscribers streamingis the opportunity to download their favorite movies and series and then watch them without an Internet connection. If you are used to using this feature, you also know that you must necessarily go through Netflix to benefit from it.
The software TunePat allows to circumvent this obligation. Netflix subscribers who use it can download all content from the catalog and store it on their PC. The film or series is then accessible from any video player and can be shared. However, the quality of MP4 files is limited to SD (480p) for users of the free version. On paper, the offer is tempting. But is it really legal?
TunePat, a legal application or an outlaw?
The question is quite thorny. It should be noted at the outset that you must be a Netflix subscriber to download with TunePat, it is not pirate software, at least strictly speaking. Before starting, it is essential to enter your login credentials to the streaming. It’s free and unlimited, and the files are stored on your computer where, on paper, you can use them as you see fit.
What should we learn from it? TunePat clearly makes its butter “on the back” of Netflix with this model freemium, but the service does not push the vice to the point of requiring no subscription to the platform. This is where the ambiguity of the software lies. This “gateway” with Netflix gives it appearances of legality and undoubtedly serves to legitimize it. But the reality is a little more complicated.
Goodbye digital locks
Remember that by “taking out” your films and series from the strict framework of Netflix, TunePat also amputates them from their technical protection measures (MTP). The contents no longer have a digital lock and can be used at leisure, without restriction. As a result, many abuses are possible and intellectual property appears to be flouted. To verify this, we tested the application by downloading an episode from the series Vikings. In the process, we sent it by email to an acquaintance who does not have a subscription to the SVoD platform. She was able to take advantage of the MP4 file without any problem.
The TunePat library, with the downloaded episode.
Basically, it is therefore not in the profit of Netflix, since its programs are found in nature and their exploitation becomes completely out of control. We would like to believe it, but it is very unlikely that all users will have a strictly personal use of TunePat. Especially when you know how easy it is to use it to feed illegal download sites. And this is just one example, among others, of misuse.
As a CNET reader rightly points out, the question of series and films downloaded from Netflix before they leave the catalog also arises. The platform enriches its offer by signing license agreements. Vikings, for example, is not an original Netflix production and the firm therefore had to pay to broadcast it. However, the contract signed with the History chain will expire at one time or another. The series will no longer be on Netflix, but those who downloaded it will keep the benefit. This raises questions about the legality of the service.
Exploiting a legal vagueness
On the software site, you can read “TunePat is limited exclusively to personal use“This is not trivial, since it allows it to exploit a real legal vagueness in intellectual property law. In France, Hadopi is responsible for”regulatory and monitoring mission in the field of technical protection measures (MTP) and objects protected by copyright or neighboring rights“(article L.331-13 of the intellectual property code). Its purpose is clearly stated:”find a balance between the protection of works and freedom of use“A mission more difficult than it seems.
The MP4 file, available after download.
In French law, there are exceptions to copyright. They define themselves as “the cases in which the author, for reasons notably based on respect for certain fundamental freedoms and the general interest, cannot prohibit the dissemination or use of his work once it has been disclosed and sometimes for financial compensation “. One of them, the private copying exception, interests us particularly in the case of TunePat.
What the law says ?
For copyright and neighboring rights, article L.122-5 of the intellectual property code states “that once the work has been disclosed, the author cannot prohibit reproductions strictly reserved for the use of the copyist“(here the author, the holder of the rights to the copied files, is Netflix). The law specifically emphasizes the point on which TunePat insisted on its website. Thus, if one strictly interprets French law, it is not not prohibited from using the software, as long as the downloaded films and series are for your strictly personal use.
What the intellectual property code says.
However, the text also specifies that “copies of works of art intended to be used for purposes identical to those for which the original work was created“do not fall within the framework of the private copying exception. Difficult to know on what foot to dance therefore, since this sentence can also apply to TunePat. The service played on this ambiguity to rush into the flaw and offer its solution to Netflix subscribers.
It therefore benefits from this “flaw” on which the firm of Reed Hastings has, it seems, not yet addressed. Is it practical? Certainly yes. Is it legal? Hard to say, especially since there is not really any case law for similar cases. And finally, is it moral? It’s up to you, it also depends on how you use it.